Tuesday, 20 March 2018


The National Shipbuilding Strategy is a long-term project to renew Canada's federal fleet of combat vessels. Currently there are three confirmed bidders. With apologies to Doug Allen’s superlative blog it seems like time to start an occasional series of “Best Frigate For Canada”.

 In October 2016 it was reported that twelve bidders had been asked to submit their designs by 27 April 2017.  At that time it was announced that only designs from ships already in service or mature existing designs would be part of the process.

Since then there have been numerous delays. In February 2017 a third of the entrants requested more time to compile their bids. Bids were to be submitted by 22 June with a winner expected to be declared in fall 2017. Further delay in the bidding process arose due to the Government of Canada's demand that any intellectual property associated with the vessel be transferred upon purchase.

Currently there are three confirmed bidders, one rejected bid and two withdrawn bids. The confirmed bids include the BAE Systems Type 26 frigate, even though it had not yet been built.

Confirmed contenders:
Alion-JJMA – De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate
BAE Systems – Type 26 frigate
Navantia – F-105 frigate
Rejected bids:
Naval Group/Fincantieri – FREMM-ER multipurpose frigate
Withdrawn bids:
Odense Maritime Technology – Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada – Baden-Württemberg-class frigate

A joint bid by Fincantieri and Naval Group (formerly DCNS) for their FREMM multipurpose frigate was offered informally on 6 November, directly to the National Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan, which he did not accept. In the end Fincantieri and Naval Group withdrew from the formal process by not making a bid by the 30 November 2017 deadline.

In theory that company's fixed price offer of $30.9 billion had the potential to save the Canadian government up to $32 billion over other bids if it had been selected. The unsolicited bid was rejected because it came outside of the official bidding process. However, on 8 December 2017, Naval Group/Fincantieri announced they would continue to submit and support their unsolicited bid, with letters of project endorsement and promised long term support from French Defense Minister Florence Parly and Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti. Naval Group and Fincantieri said they could provide the vessels to the Canadian government for $30.9 billion and begin construction at Irving as early as 2019.

The FREMM proposal was dismissed in a programme update released by PSPC on 5 December. PSPC said all bids for the CSC were expected to fall within established bid and evaluation process guidelines, and suggested the FREMM bid did not meet those guidelines. No explanation was added to explain why the BAE Systems Type 26 frigate, even though it is not a “mature existing design in service”, was able to meet those guidelines.

It is difficult to evaluate the three official contenders given the wide range of potential equipment it is possible to fit on any of these platforms.  With that caveat in mind the notional specifications for the frigates currently vying for the contract are shown in the table below.  Some clarification is added on the subject of ships propulsion and in future posts I will try to do the same for other issues such as sensors and combat management systems. No doubt the disqualification of the FREMM design may call for a little comment as well.

De Zeven Provinciën
Type 26 frigate
Navantia – F-105
6,050 tonnes
6,000 tonnes
5,800-6,391 tonnes
144.24 m
(473.2 ft)
149.9 m 
(492 ft)
146.7 m 
(481 ft.)
18.8 m (61.7 ft)
20.8 m (68 ft)
18.6 m (61 ft.)
5.18 m (17.0 ft)
4.75 m (15.6 ft.)
30 knots
(56 km/h; 
35 mph)
26 knots +
(48 km/h; 
30 mph +)
28.5 knots
(52.8 km/h; 
32.8 mph)
4,000 nmi (7,400 km) at 18 knots
7,000 nautical miles
4,500 nmi (8,300 km) at 18 knots
Propulsion *
2 × Rolls Royce Spey SM 1C gas turbines,
2 ×  diesel engines,
1 x Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine
4 x  diesel generators
2 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbines
2 × diesel engine
Active Phased Array Radar & Passive Electronically Scanned Array Radar,
active and passive sonar
Type 997 Artisan 3D radar, towed array sonar, active and passive sonar
AN/SPY-1D 3-D multifunction radar,
active and passive sonar
1 × 5-inch gun
1 × CIWS
40-cell Mk.41 vertical
8 × Harpoon anti-ship missiles
2 × 324 mm twin Torpedo launchers
1 ×  5-inch  gun
2 × CIWS
2 × 30 mm guns
VLS canisters for a total of 48 Anti-air missiles
1 x 24 cell Mk 41 VLS
1 × 5-inch gun
1 × CIWS
1 × 48 cell Mk 41 VLS
8 × Harpoon anti-ship missile
4 × 324 mm Torpedo launchers
1 × NH-90 helicopter
2 x Wildcat or
1 x Merlin class helicopter
1 × Seahawk class helicopter
232 (30 officers)
118 (capacity for 208)
Note: Flexible mission bay
250 (48 officers)

CODOG: Combined Diesel or Gas
CODAG: Combined Diesel and Gas
CODLAG: Combined Diesel Electric and Gas

Gas = Excellent acceleration, compact
Diesel = Efficient for cruise (medium-high RPMs), simple intake/exhaust requirements
Electric = Silent, efficient at low RPMs
IEP = More damage resistant & more design freedom (can locate diesel/gas generators anywhere)

These days diesel-electric is almost mandatory for ASW combatants and OPVs. Moreover gas is required for ASW (for sprints).

In addition, don't forget the "Or" propulsion variants - COGOG, CODOG, CODLOG. They may appear less flexible and less capital-efficient, but those disadvantages are often more than offset by the less complex reduction gear. Reduction gear is often a weakness of "And" propulsion arrangements.

Combined diesel or gas (CODOG) is a type of propulsion system for ships that need a maximum speed that is considerably faster than their cruise speed, particularly warships like modern frigates or corvettes.

For every propeller shaft there is one diesel engine for cruising speed and one geared gas turbine for high speed dashes. Both are connected to the shaft with clutches, only one system is driving the ship in contrast to CODAG-systems, which can use the combined power output of both. The advantage of CODOG is a simpler gearing compared to CODAG but it needs either more powerful or additional gas turbines to achieve the same maximum power output. The disadvantage of CODOG is that the fuel consumption at high speed is poor compared to CODAG.

National Shipbuilding Strategy


Update on the Canadian Surface Combatant Request for Proposals