In the current and future security environment, the Government of Canada must have effective tools for exercising control of Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs, or 200 nautical mile limit) in all three oceans, particularly the Arctic. This Government recognizes that an increased Canadian Forces (CF) presence in the Arctic is essential to achieving our goals in this region, which is critical to our national interest and sense of identity.
Currently, the Canadian Navy can patrol the coastal waters of Canada’s East and West Coasts, but it does not have the capability to effectively patrol all three oceans. The Navy can only operate in northern waters for a short period of time, and only when there is no ice.
While the Navy can effectively patrol our close coastal waters in the Atlantic and Pacific with its Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs), these ships cannot be used effectively out to the limits of Canada’s EEZs. They have limited ability to operate in the open ocean, limited speed, limited capacity to support boarding operations and lack the ability to support a helicopter. The Navy must use its large combatant vessels – destroyers and frigates, which are expensive to operate and already over-tasked - to patrol the open ocean.
To fill this capability gap, the Navy will acquire six to eight Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (A/OPS). The estimated cost of acquiring these ships is C$3.1 billion, with approximately C$4.3 billion provided for operations and maintenance over the 25-year lifespan of the ship.
The multi-purpose, ice-capable offshore patrol ship will enhance Canada’s ability to enforce its right, under international law, to be notified when foreign ships enter Canadian waters. The primary tasks of the A/OPS would be to conduct sea-borne surveillance operations in Canada’s EEZs, including the Arctic; provide cross-governmental situation awareness of activities and events in the regions; and cooperate with other elements of the CF and other federal government departments to assert and enforce Canadian sovereignty, when and where necessary.
These ships will also provide the flexibility for the Navy to operate in both the Arctic and offshore environments, allowing them to be used year-round in a variety of roles, including domestic surveillance, search and rescue and support to other government departments.
The Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship offers the best blend of capabilities in one platform; however, a ship with these capabilities does not currently exist and would have to be designed to meet a series of high-level requirements:
The A/OPSs must be able to operate independently and effectively in Canada’s EEZs, including such diverse environments as the Canadian Arctic, the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and the Northwest Coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands. The ship must also be capable of navigating the St. Lawrence River year-round and berthing at Quebec City.
- Ice Capability:
The hull of the A/OPS must be ice strengthened to operate in medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions - old ice that is denser and may strike the hull of the ship. This ice capability is exclusively for the ships’ own mobility, not to provide icebreaking services to other ships.
The ship must have the ability to sustain operations for up to four months and must have a range of at least 6,000 nautical miles.
- Command and Control:
The ship’s electronic equipment must have the ability to ensure safety of navigation and flight, as well as sufficient command, control and communications capability to provide and receive real-time information to and from the CF Common Operating Picture.
The ship must be able to maintain an economical speed of 14 knots and attain a maximum speed of at least 20 knots.
The ship must have gun armament to assert Canadian sovereignty.
- Boat Operations:
The ship’s crew must be able to conduct boat operations in up to sea state four, support operations ashore via landing craft and support naval boarding parties.
- Class Life: The six to eight ships should remain operational for 25 years.
The ship may also be designed to embark and operate an on-board helicopter, as well as house one flying crew and one maintenance crew.
There is currently insufficient infrastructure in both Esquimalt and Halifax to berth the A/OPS. As a result, some additional jetty infrastructure renewal would be required. The project will also establish a docking and refuelling facility in Nunavut. These infrastructure costs – estimated at approximately $274 million – will be included in the A/OPS budget.
The two-phased process of procuring the A/OPS will be an innovative, fair and transparent means of guaranteeing the requirements of the CF are met in a timely manner, while ensuring value for Canadians’ tax dollars and maximizing opportunities for Canadian industry. Industrial and regional benefits totalling 100 per cent of the contract value would be sought for the implementation contract.
A project definition phase of 24 months will be needed to develop the functional design, refine the high-level statement of operational requirements (SORs), complete and issue the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the implementation phase of the project and evaluate responses. A competitive process will be used to select a Definition, Engineering, Logistics and Management Support (DELMS) contractor, who will develop the design used to refine the requirements and provide input into the RFP. During this time, consulting engineering contractors will also deliver a functional design for the infrastructure needed to support the A/OPS.
Throughout the project definition phase, industry will be kept engaged and informed of progress and design work. Interest from industry will be sought through a Letter of Interest to allow potential bidders to self-identify, and qualified teams will be invited to comment on the draft project implementation (PI) RFP. The definition phase of the procurement process would end with the release and evaluation of this RFP.
The implementation phase of the process would involve the successful contractor completing a detailed design of the ships, followed by construction and the provision of integrated logistics support, and initial in-service support. Delivery of the first Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship is expected in 2013.
During this phase of the process, realty assets required for the docking and refuelling facility in Nunavut will also be acquired, and contracts will also be awarded for the construction and completion of the support infrastructure needed.
The procurement strategy would conform to the Canadian Shipbuilding Policy Framework, which provides that the federal government will continue to procure, repair and refit vessels in Canada, subject to operational requirements and the continued existence of a competitive domestic marketplace.
This acquisition will create long-term industrial development for Canadians. The Government's policy requires that prime contractors on defence procurements undertake business activities in Canada, usually in an amount equal to the value of the contract they have won. This helps Canadian companies maintain globally competitive operations in the country and effectively support future national security requirements.
The acquisition of these ships will deliver maximum high-quality industrial benefits to Canadians and the Canadian shipbuilding industry is well positioned to play a significant role as this project proceeds.