It is really great news that Canada has awarded the Lockheed Martin/BAE Systems team “preferred bidder” status for a potential contract reported to eventually be worth around $45 billion for the planned build of 15 new frigates for the Royal Canadian Navy. That Canada has opted for the BAE Systems Type 26 ‘Global Combat Ship’ design, a class of vessels that are already under construction for the Royal Navy and that have also been chosen as Australia for its next generation frigate capability, is further confirmation of the UK’s and BAE Systems leading position in surface combatant ship design.
The decision which was announced late Friday by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the Canadian government’s internal services and administration arm and Irving Shipbuilders, the Canadian shipbuilder that will build the vessels, allows Lockheed Martin as prime contractor and its BAE Systems partner to now begin negotiations on specific contractual terms required for the construction of 15 frigates together with associated equipment and services. The Canadian government anticipates a formal contracts to be announced in 2019 and for build to begin in the early 2020’s.
In the statement accompanying the announcement PSPC said that the Canadian Surface Combatant project is most probably the largest and most complex procurement ever to have been undertaken by the Government of Canada adding that “the ships will form the backbone” of the Royal Canadian Navy and will be “Canada’s major surface component of maritime combat power for decades to come.”
In winning preferred bidder status Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems have beaten off two other competing offers, one from US headquartered Alion Science and Technology through its subsidiary Alion Canada and another from a team that included the Spanish shipbuilder Navanita at its head. Alion had proposed a design based on the Dutch De Zeven Provincien class frigate – this is also known as the LCF or Air Defense and Command Frigate and Navanita was offering a ship derived from the Spanish Navy’s Cristobal Colon which was the final ship built in the Alvaro de Bazan class of frigate design.
The Canadian Surface Combatant programme was born out of the 2008 Canadian National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The ships to be built in Canada at the Irving Shipbuilders year by Lockheed Martin will be a modified version of the Type 26 frigate, the first of which from an intended number of eight vessels is now under construction by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy and for which BAE Systems has recently won an award from the Australian Government to build a similarly modified version of Type 26 for the Royal Australian Navy.
To be known as ‘CITY’ class, these multi-purpose ships for Canada are planned to eventually replace the 12 existing ‘Halifax’ class frigates that comprise current Royal Canadian Navy surface combatant capability.
Detailed capability requirement for the ‘City’ class ships will follow in due course but for the Type 26 ships currently under construction for the Royal Navy the primary armament will comprise three 8-cell Mk 41 VLS (Vertical launch System) cells built by Lockheed Martin, regarded as being the only system capable of launching anti-air, anti-submarine, surface to surface and strike missiles and also the MBDA Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missile. The VLS can accommodate various types of weapons that include quad-packed RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) or single Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) cruise missiles. Royal Navy Type 26 vessels will also have BAE Systems Mark 45 main gun together with two Phalanx CIWS (close in weapons systems and two 30mm DS30M Mk 2’s.
With a speed of 26+ knots and a range of 7,000 nautical miles propulsion for the Type 26 frigate design uses a combined diesel-electric or gas, or CODLOG propulsion configuration which combines diesel engines and gas turbines into a single power-producing system. The capability improves power management and efficiency along with assisting reductions in maintenance requirement and logistical costs, all of which are important for modern multi-purpose ships with increasingly power-hungry systems.
When it comes into service with the Royal Navy in Type 26 will be regarded as being the most capable warship in service of any navy. The development phase has been has a long and Type 26 has been designed with modularity and flexibility in mind to enhance versatility across a wide range of operations ranging from counter piracy and disaster relief operations to high intensity combat and submarine countermeasure activity. Role versatility is further enhanced due to the vessel having a mission bay capable of supporting multiple helicopters including EH101 Merlin and Chinook for transport of embarked forces.
In respect of design history, having emerged in 2005 as one of two agreed ‘Pathfinder’ projects (the other being the Armoured Fighting Vehicle programme which later became Future Rapid Effects Systems – FRES) what would eventually become the Type 26 programme moved forward through what was known as ‘Sustaining Surface Combatant Capability’ S2C2 programme, the aim being to develop a Future Surface Combatant (FSC).
Being an important part of a forward strategy for three different classes of ship requirement that the Royal Navy decided would be needed in order to replace ships of the Type 22, Type 23, Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), Hydrography and Minehunting class vessels, what was termed as C1 called for an exportable agile design platform with ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) capability and that contained a sizable flight deck and mission bay. OPV’s came under the C2 category and others under C3. C1 was taken through initial gate process in 2010 and from that point on would be known as Type 26.
CHW (London 21st October 2018)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd
M: +44 7710 779785