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April 16, 2004

Canada releases details on support ships

Canada's Department of National Defence today announced further details concerning the Government's intention to acquire three Joint Support Ships for the Canadian Forces. The Government says it will build the ships in Canada.

The Joint Support Ship Project will deliver ships capable of a host of support capabilities such as at-sea support to naval task groups, sealift and support to deployed forces ashore.

"The $2.1 billion [US$ 1.56 billion] Joint Support Ship project will provide Canada with an invaluable capability both to support and enforce domestic maritime security as well as support our foreign policy objectives such as humanitarian and peacekeeping missions," declared David Pratt, Minister of National Defence, in a ceremony at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt. "The Government has committed to providing the Canadian Forces with the equipment and training they require to do their jobs and this initiative is another concrete demonstration of that commitment."

"The Joint Support Ship is a vital component of a naval task group, able to significantly extend the range and duration of naval operations," said General Raymond Henault, Chief of the Defence Staff. "The capability to transport an Army Battle Group over great distances and support operations ashore will be invaluable to the future domestic and international operations the Canadian Forces will be called on to undertake."

The Joint Support Ship procurement process will consist of three phases.

The first phase, or pre-qualification, will identify industry teams capable of fulfilling the project requirements.

The second phase, project definition, will fund two industry teams to submit design proposals and recommendations for in-service support.

The final phase, project implementation will select one industry team to design and build the ships, and provide long-term in-service support.

The delivery of the first ship is expected in 2011. T

he Joint Support Ships will eventually replace the Protecteur class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessels that have been serving Canada since the late 1960s

For the past 35 years, the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) vessels have done more than just re-fuel and re-supply the fleet. HMCS PROTECTEUR, HMCS PRESERVER and the decommissioned HMCS PROVIDER have contributed to humanitarian aid missions in Florida and the Bahamas, peace-making off Somalia and East Timor, and have been poised for the evacuation of non-combatants from Haiti, to name but a few of their missions.

Now, though, the vessels are approaching the end of their service lives and the costs of maintaining and servicing this capability is increasing.

"The technology is outdated, and, despite several upgrades throughout their service life, they do not have the requisite environmental systems required by today's regulations," notes a Defence Ministry background note.

The Joint Support Ship project has as its ultimate goal the delivery of three multi-role vessels with substantially more capability than the AORs.

In addition to being able to provide at-sea support to deployed naval task groups, they will also be capable of significant sealift operations as well as support to forces deployed ashore.

The Joint Support Ship project will provide Canada with modern vessels that are a critical component of Canada's defence capability, both at home and abroad. These vessels will enable the Canadian Forces to fulfill its domestic maritime security priorities as well as support Canada's foreign policy objectives.

Canadian Forces have for years been active participants on international operations in such diverse places as Kosovo, the Golan Heights, Cyprus, and more recently in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan.

The Canadian Navy has engaged in peacekeeping operations in Haiti, East Timor, Somalia as well as Operation Apollo , Canada's military contribution to the war against terrorism. Op Apollo, the most recent mission to the Persian Gulf region, was the largest Canadian naval deployment since World War II and involved most of Canada's surface fleet and virtually the entire seagoing establishment. Canada's AORs have played a critical role in all of these operations.

Support ships such as the Joint Support Ship enable a Naval Task Group to remain at sea for up to six times longer than would be possible without these ships. This capability is seen as critical to the protection of Canada's domestic maritime security priorities and is invaluable to international deployments or prolonged operations at sea.

For a number of years now, the Canadian Navy has been working to develop both a replacement for the AORs and address capability requirements in a changing global security environment. Strategic planning is no longer focused on the Cold War era fleet on fleet engagements, but rather the requirement for multi-role, globally deployable forces that can perform effectively in a number of strategic and tactical environments.

The Joint Support Ship statement of requirements has been developed through operational research and analysis of a range of options, and was written and approved by the military, for the military.

The Joint Support Ship will provide three distinct capabilities:

  • Underway Support to Naval Task Groups: the transfer of liquids and solids between ships at sea. This underway support also includes the operation of helicopters and a second line maintenance capability for helicopters, as well as a task group medical and dental facility;

  • Sealift – To meet a range of possibilities in an uncertain future security environment, three Joint Support Ships together will be capable of transporting 7,500 lane meters of vehicles and stores. This will provide for the transport of an army battle group. The capability will also include a flexible self load and unload function; and

  • Afloat Support to Forces Deployed Ashore – This capability will provide a limited joint force headquarters at sea for command and control of forces deployed ashore.

These three capabilities will enable the Joint Support Ship to provide better support to both naval and land forces during joint, national and international operations.

Each Joint Support Ship will offer 1,500 lane metres of covered deck space for vehicles and capacity equivalent to 1,000 lane meters for weather deck stowage of sea containers. This area is roughly equivalent to that required to carry 300 wheeled light support trucks. This will serve to reduce the reliance on chartered sealift when speed or reaction is a key element of a mission.

The notional dimensions of the ship will be in the order of 200 meters in length, 26 meters in breadth and a displacement of 28,000 metric tonnes.

In addition to the interoperatibility with the Army and Air Force, being able to function as a Joint Task Force Headquarters is also important, as may be impossible to establish a JTF HQ ashore in areas of conflict. The command, control, communications and computer suite will enable headquarters staff to maintain a full and complete picture of the tactical and strategic situation from a secure position in relatively close proximity to the front lines.

Inherent in the ship design will be an ability to be rapidly reconfigured. The hangar, normally used for doing maintenance on aircraft, could be rapidly transformed to care for survivors of a disaster at sea or at shore. A modularized onboard hospital could also include up to 60 beds.

The crew requirements for the Joint Support Ship will also be significantly reduced from those of an AOR. The current complement of an AOR is 247 officers and non-commissioned members. The Joint Support Ship will reduce this requirement significantly.

The ship will also be configured with both active and passive self-defense systems and an ability to navigate in first-year ice up to 0.7 metres thick.

The Joint Support Ship project itself will have four major deliverables:

  • The design of a new class of ship;
  • The construction of the three ships;
  • The provision of the necessary infrastructure and other logistics support (training, initial spares, technical data, etc.) to facilitate the transition of the new ships into service; and
  • An in-service support contract to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul, long-term spares and technical support for the life of the class.

The first vessel will likely not be delivered until 2011–2012. The procurement process consists of three distinct stages, designed to mitigate risk and ensure that the final ship design will be a vessel capable of serving Canada for years to come.

The first phase of the procurement process is the Pre-Qualification phase. During this period, DND will solicit interest from industry and evaluate that interest based on a number of criteria such as financial commitment, experience and expertise, concept design and a strategy to build the ships in Canada.

The Government is committed to building these ships in Canada in accordance with the current shipbuilding policy.

This commitment will help build a strong economy, create high-quality jobs and encourage regional development.

The second phase, Project Definition, will see two qualified consortia selected from among the qualifying proposals. These consortia will be awarded a contract to produce and deliver to the Crown an implementation proposal consisting of a preliminary ship design, a project implementation plan and an in-service support plan. These proposals will be evaluated on the basis of compliance and the proposal demonstrating the best value, taking into consideration technical merit and total ownership cost, will be selected as the winner.

The final phase, Project Implementation, will see the winning bidder awarded two separate but inter-related contracts. The first will be for the completed design for and construction of the Joint Support Ships. The second will be for the in-service support for the life of the vessels.

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