Mark Collins - Leaking, or Canadians in the Dark Mark Collins - RCAF Cyclone Maritime Choppers Not Acceptable, Piling Up
Aug 07

In fact it’s hard to see how the number and types of ships planned can be acquired on schedule for the money allotted–especially with the insistence they be built in Canada. It would also be nice if the government would specify exactly what the missions of the planned Canadian Surface Combatants are supposed to be. At MILNEWS.ca:

  • Big Honkin’ Ships “Vindicated by revelations this past spring that the Department of National Defence withheld information about the full cost of the F-35 fighter, Parliament’s budgetary watchdog has now turned its attention to the Harper government’s $35-billion national shipbuilding plan [$33 billion for “large vessels”, i.e. over 1,000 tonnes]. The government has maintained the national shipbuilding procurement strategy, as the massive plan to overhaul of Canada’s navy and coast guard fleets is called, is moving full steam ahead. But difficult negotiations with industry, tight budget allocations and schedule delays have been bubbling beneath the surface — and the Parliamentary Budget Office’s involvement threatens to bring them to the surface in a very public way. Liberal defence critic John McKay said PBO officials had confirmed to him they were studying the shipbuilding plan after he asked them to do so in June 2011. That request was made before Halifax and Vancouver were chosen to carry out the majority of work and before the government revealed that delivery of the first ships to be produced under the strategy — seven armed Arctic vessels — would be delayed three years. There are fears that delay will spill over into other shipbuilding projects, affecting plans to have replacements for Canada’s destroyers, frigates and supply ships in place before they are retired ….”

Related:

Canadian shipyards can’t competitively build large large civilian vessels–but the government insists they build naval ones

RCN/CCG Shipbuilding: Politics vs. Purchasing Power

Canada’s C$ 2.9B “Joint Support Ship” Project, Take 3

The (current) “Facts”: The CF’s Interminable Procurement Delays
[see Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship and Joint Support Ship]

Finally the Truth: “Canada First Defence Strategy” Just a Scrap of Paper

Some CF, er, Challenges: Major Media Seriously Picking Up on Some “3Ds” (and others’) Themes?

What are the RCN’s New Ships for?

RCN Capability Gap: Not Exactly Hot News
[Canadian Surface Combatant]

RCN’s Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship: Some “important milestone”

Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy

By the way, in the 2012 budget (scroll down to “Strengthening Canada’s Public Infrastructure“) the federal government pledged $5.2 billion dollars over eleven (!!!) years for new Canadian Coast Guard vessels and helicopters (latter not actually mentioned in the budget document). But the government has said nothing about how that figure relates to the total $8 billion (an “umbrella agreement, not a “contract”) in the NSPS for large non-combat vessels for both the CCG and RCN, i.e. how much is additional money? And what sorts of ships are to be built? Note this–the announcement may actually be effectively meaningless in terms of funds, so why make it?


The latest money allotted will likely fall within the $8-billion non-combat package and is not expected to increase its total value, [Jonathan] Whitworth [Seaspan’s chief executive officer] said.

“It’s new ships. It’s not new money.”..

The CCG in particular desperately needs more than one new icebreaker: the youngest of the current six is already 24 years old, and the one really large icebreaker, the Louis S. St-Laurent, is already 44 years old (it’s the ship that is supposed to be replaced in 2017, good luck with the date).

There’s a lot more information on the CCG’s plans, before the 2012 budget, for its fleet at this webpage; if one reads closely one might conclude they are nowhere near adequate, especially for vessels over 1,000 tonnes. Details on those ships are here, but one must search repeatedly under “Vessel Type” and work onward. It’s almost as if the CGG were purposely making it hard to get at the facts about its poor prospects.

Still the government has remained mute on the specifics of the CCG budget announcement.

Disclosure: The last years of my federal public service career were as a bureaucrat at CCG HQ.

I find it hard to believe the money allocated under the NSPS (is there any real new amount for the Coast Guard?) will be there in any timely fashion for the RCN and the CCG.

Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger

2 Responses to “Mark Collins - Parliamentary Budget Officer to Examine Government Shipbuilding”

  1. MarkOttawa Says:

    I am loathe to admit it but I agree with a lot of what St. Steve Staples
    http://www.cdfai.org/the3dsblog/?s=staples+ceasefire.ca
    says in this article:

    ‘The parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, has announced he will look into the federal government’s $35-billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. This is a sure sign that the tremendously expensive shipbuilding program will be receiving a lot more attention in the near future…

    Questions remain about whether we actually need some of the ships that we plan to purchase. The Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship program is a good example. The purpose of the ship is to protect the Arctic. This seems out of step with the government’s own foreign policy statement: “Canada does not anticipate any military challenges in the Arctic.” Given the difficulty of operating in the far north, fears of terrorists and smugglers there seem more hypothetical than real [see also: “Arctic Sovereignty Hoo-Hah: DND Comes Clean, No Russian Threat”
    http://www.cdfai.org/the3dsblog/?p=1356 ].

    The largest, most expensive part of the deal is the Canada Surface Combatant program, which will replace Canada’s 12 frigates and three destroyers with 15 new ships. This means we will be keeping the number of combat ships in our navy to roughly the same level as it was at the end of the Cold War. Why are so many ships still needed?

    …the shipbuilding plan has all the markings of another botched program: unclear requirements, a massive budget and a single supplier - chosen without a finalized contract for even a single ship.

    …the government appears unprepared for the possibility of the ships turning out to be much more expensive than budgeted…’
    http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/comment/story.html?id=d32ad176-52ad-4b3e-b37d-50f21ce56974&k=28742

    Mark Collins

  2. MarkOttawa Says:

    A company interested in work on the CSC–whenever that happens, if it does:

    ‘German defence contractor eyes future frigate replacement during Merkel visit

    A German defence consortium accompanying Chancellor Angela Merkel has its sights on Canada’s plan to eventually replace its command destroyers and patrol frigates with a single class of modern warships, say a number of defence sources.

    The head of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems is one five German business tycoons who took part in Thursday’s meeting with Canadian counterparts on Parliament Hill.

    The company is already a major player in the Canadian navy’s plan to build new supply ships at the Seaspan yards in Vancouver [more here:
    http://www.cdfai.org/the3dsblog/?p=956
    BMT Fleet Technologies, the Canadian subsidiary of a British company, is also competing for the JSS design
    http://www.bmt.org/directory/?/1/1]…

    ThyssenKrupp Marine is under contract to consult, and observers widely expect the company’s Berlin-class design will end up being chosen as the basis for the new replenishment ships [what evidence for this?].

    But the bigger prize, according to industry sources, is the planned Canadian Single Class Surface Combatant Ship, which has yet to be given a firm price tag or start date.

    …federal budget documents suggest no replacements are on the horizon until almost the end of the decade, at the earliest.

    According to defence insiders, ThyssenKrupp Marine is interested in getting in on the ground floor of the single-class design and the eventual installation of combat systems, such as radar, missiles and guns.

    That would be in keeping with the Harper government’s strategy, which mandates that the warships be built in Canada…

    A defence procurement expert said bending steel and building hulls is probably the least expensive element of building warships; the real money for contractors is in the weapons systems.

    “The government’s strategy of building at home doesn’t preclude those systems from coming from elsewhere,” said Phillipe Lagasse of the University of Ottawa.

    The Canadian navy has over the decades taken great pride in having its designers lay out the plans for the new warships it wants, but Lagasse said the deficit-minded Conservative government has realized that the process is lengthy and more expensive than going with existing drawings in other nations…’

    Mark Collins

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