On this Remembrance Weekend it is perhaps appropriate to give thought to the Royal Canadian Navy. Following a six month deployment to Asia, a visitor to the Pier in North Vancouver in August was HMCS Ottawa, a Halifax Class Patrol Frigate and the fourth to be named after Canada’s capital city. While in Asia, Ottawa and her sister ship HMCS Winnipeg visited the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, China, South Korea, and Japan and participated along with Allied Navies in exercise Poseidon Cutlass 17. Home ported in Esquimalt, Ottawa is assigned to Maritime Forces Pacific.
Built by Saint John Shipbuilding, Saint John NB
Commissioned in 1996
Displacement 4795 MT in operational condition
Propulsion 2 x LM 2500 gas turbines generating 47,500 shaft HP + 1 x SEMT Pielstick diesel engine generating 8,800 HP
Speed 30 knots
Complement 225 including air detachment
Helicopter: Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone
Sister ships: HMCS St. John’s, Halifax, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Montreal, Québec City, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver
More than one million Canadians served in World War II spread over the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army but often also integrated with other Commonwealth forces. More than 44,000 Canadian lives were lost and 54,000 wounded. After starting the war with a handful of aircraft and ships, Canada ended the war with the world’s third largest navy and fourth largest air force while the Canadian merchant fleet completed over 25,000 voyages across the Atlantic under the harshest of conditions. The picture above right shows a previous HMCS Ottawa commissioned in 1938 but sunk in 1942 by U Boat torpedoes with the loss of her Captain, 115 crew members and 16 shipwrecked men rescued earlier from another vessel. There were 69 survivors.
The current HMCS Ottawa was ordered in December 1987 as part of the second batch of Halifax-class frigates, designed as a general purpose warship with focus on anti-submarine warfare. Ottawa was the final vessel to be built in the series of 12 vessels. The entire class has since undergone the Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) program and Frigate Equipment Life Extension Project (FELEX) which involved upgrades to command and control, radar, communications, electronic warfare and armament systems plus modifying the vessel to accommodate the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter. The construction phase of the program was completed in November 2016 and the modernization program is scheduled to complete by 2018.
The Canadian Surface Combatant Project is the procurement project to eventually replace the Iroquis and Halifax class vessels with up to 15 new ships beginning in the early 2020s as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS). The design of these ships is currently underway but both the total number of ships and their capability will be dependent on budget allocation. One of the front-runners is said to be the Danish FREMM Class multi-purpose frigate (pictures above). Whatever the new design, the vessels will be built at the Irving Shipyard in Halifax N.S. The original plans call for a 10 year design and 20 year construction period at a cost of C$26 billion but there is little doubt that the actual cost will be substantially higher.