Royal Canadian Navy’s Modernization Drive

By December 30, 2014 Uncategorized No Comments

HCMS Fredericton (Source:

Royal Canadian Navy in an Overhauling Mood
Labeled as the largest peacetime modernization program of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is the $4.3 billion Halifax Class Modernization / Frigate Equipment Life Extension (HCM / FELEX) Program. The program is on budget and scheduled for completion by 2018.

Twelve Halifax Class Frigates form the spine of the RCN. Four of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HCMS) that are already updated include Fredericton, Halifax, Winnepeg, and Calgary. HCMS Fredericton is scheduled for deployment at high readiness in early 2015.

Saint John Shipbuilding made nine out of the original twelve Halifax Class frigates. HCM / FELEX was launched in 2007 and awarded in November 2008 to a team led by Lockheed Martin. It includes Saab AB, Xwave, CAE Professional Services, Elisra, L-3Electronic Systems, and IBM Canada.

Halifax Class Frigates make a complete team with Victoria Class Submarines and Kingston Class Maritime Coastal Defense Vessels. The combination will continue to guard Canadian waters till new Canadian Surface Combatants take over this responsibility shortly.
Halifax Class Vessels Rejuvenation

Frigates are lean, long, and relatively small warships for anti-submarine warfare (ASW). They protect larger warships, merchant-marine convoys, in-transit replenishment groups, and amphibious expedition forces chiefly from submarine dangers. The term frigate has denoted different kinds of ships over several centuries.

Image 2Changes in Halifax Class Frigates

A product of the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project that goes back to the 1970s, all Halifax Class vessels are designed to deal with surface and air threats apart from conventional submarine attacks. These vessels are named after major Canadian cities choosing at least one city from each Canadian province.

These Made in Canada patrol frigates were commissioned between 1992 and 1996 and can take on multiple roles anywhere in the world. The planned mid-life revamp includes:

  • Fresh Command & Control System: SHINPADS combined processing and display mechanism offers distributed command and weapon control
  • Internal Communication System Upgrade
  • Interrogator Friend or Foe Mode S/5
  • Long-Range Infrared Search & Track System (SIRUS)
  • Harpoon Missile System Upgrade (surface-to-surface)
  • Updated Sea Sparrow Missile (surface-to-air): uses partially active radar homing for vertical launch of a 39kg warhead to 15km at 1.6Mach speed
  • Electronic Warfare System Upgrade
  • New Radar Suite
  • Multi-Link

Technical Specifications

Table 1

Main weapon of the Halifax Class warships is the CH-124 Sea King Helicopter. It works with the shipboard sensors to locate and neutralize submarines before they come within striking distance of the frigates.

Helicopter deck of these frigates is equipped with Recovery, Assist, Securing, and Traversing (RAST) mechanism for launching and recovery of helicopters in up to Sea State 6. Sea State measures the degree of smoothness / roughness of the sea surface. The CH-148 Cyclone Helicopter will soon replace the CH-124.

Image 3

HCMS Halifax

Other weaponry includes:
• Torpedoes
– 24 x Mk 46 Torpedoes Mod 5
• Missiles
– 8 x MK 141 Harpoon SSM
– 16 x RIM-162 ESSM SAM/SSM
• Decoys (Post HCM/FELEX)
– Rheinmetall Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS)
• Guns (Post HCM/FELEX)
– 1 x 57mm Bofors Mk3 Gun (220 rounds/minute to 10nm)
– 1 x Phalanx CIWS (Block 1B) Baseline 1
-6 x 0.5cal Heavy Machine Guns
• Sensors (Post HCM/FELEX)
– Combat System: ‘CanACCS-9LV’ with elements from Saab 9LV
– Navigational Radar: Raytheon Anschutz Pathfinder ST MK2
– Air / Surface Search: Saab Sea Giraffe HC 180 (G-band)
– Long Range Air Search: Thales Smart-S Mk2 S-band Radars
– Active Sonar: AN/SQS-510 Hull Mounted Variable Depth (Max. Range 27nm)
– Passive Sonar: Upgraded AN/SQR-501 CANTASS Passive Towed Array
– Fire Control: Saab CEROS 200

Halifax Class frigates include the following Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS):

  • Fredericton
  • Halifax
  • Calgary
  • Winnipeg
  • Regina
  • Ottawa
  • Montreal
  • Charlottetown
  • Ville de Quebec
  • Toronto
  • St. Johns
  • Vancouver


Over the coming decades, Canada will execute the $36.6 billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) to acquire 15 vessels that will eventually replace all twelve Halifax Class Frigates and three Iroquois Class Destroyers. RCN is incorporating new maritime helicopters in its fleet service and also acquiring Arctic / Offshore Patrol Ships, Joint Support Ships, and Canadian Surface Combatants.