Armed Naval Icebreakers (A/OPS) – DND/CF News Release – 10 July 2007
Dep't of National Defence / Canadian Forces News Release
Armed Naval Icebreakers – the
Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships
Update: Oct 2012 – Since this
News Release was prepared, the statement "Delivery of the first Arctic/Offshore Patrol
Ship is expected in 2013" has become a nonsense. The Implementation Phase schedule was
for deliveries to run from 2013 to 2019. But initial delivery slid to 2015 assuming a
build contract by early 2012. The ISS LOI for AOPS listed an initial deliveries of
2018 before such dates were dropped altogether.
On 09 July 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a plan to procure six-to- eight armed naval icebreakers.
Dubbed 'Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships', these vessels would replace heavy armed icebreakers promised in the 2005/'06 election while also trying to fill a
long-standing Canadian offshore patrol vessel requirement. Neither of
these roles – Arctic or OPV – are particularly sought after by Maritime
The model for A/OPS was said to be the Svalbard class, an excellent Norwegian coast guard design.
This vessel was designed very specifically for use around Norway's Svalbard (Spitzbergen) archipelago.
The question is: Can such a ship perform both Arctic patrol and OPV duties?
Generally, a chimera like A/OPS satisfies neither job description. The A/OPS will be too light for anything other
than summer Arctic ice. But 'light' is a relative term. As an OPV, the A/OPS is a good size but hugely
overweight. To survive Arctic ice, the Svalbard has a thick hull constructed of special, high-strength steel.
This puts this modestly-sized vessel into a weight category closer to an Iroquois class
destroyer than to most OPVs. A/OPS will operate at a disadvantage for two-thirds of the year.
Also see AOPS definition contract & Proposed Ship Capabilities/TSOR summary
The contents of the DND / CF Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship Backgrounder follows.
Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships
BG–07.023 - July 10, 2007
In the current and future security environment, the Government of Canada must have effective tools for exercising
control of Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs, or 200 nautical mile [321 km] limit) in all three oceans,
particularly the Arctic. This Government recognizes that an increased Canadian Forces (CF) presence in the
Arctic is essential to achieving our goals in this region, which is critical to our national interest and sense of
Currently, the Canadian Navy can patrol the coastal waters of Canada's East and West Coasts, but does not have
the capability to effectively patrol all three oceans. The Navy can only operate in northern waters for a short
period of time, and only when there is no ice.
While the Navy can effectively patrol our close coastal waters in the Atlantic and Pacific with its Maritime Coastal
Defence Vessels (MCDVs), these ships cannot be used effectively out to the limits of Canada’s EEZs. [The
MCDVs have a] limited ability to operate in the open ocean, limited speed [15 kts/28 km/h], limited capacity to
support boarding operations and lack the ability to support a helicopter. The Navy must
use its large combatant vessels – destroyers and frigates, which are expensive
to operate and already over-tasked – to patrol the open ocean.
To fill this capability gap, the Navy will acquire six to eight Arctic / Offshore Patrol Ships (A/OPS).
The estimated cost of acquiring these ships is $3.1 billion, with approximately
$4.3 billion provided for operations and
maintenance over the 25-year lifespan of the ship.
The multi-purpose, ice-capable offshore patrol ship will enhance Canada’s ability to enforce its right,
under international law, to be notified when foreign ships enter Canadian waters.
The primary tasks of the A/OPS would be to conduct sea-borne surveillance operations in
Canada’s EEZs, including the Arctic; provide cross-gov- ernmental ... awareness of activities and events in the
regions; and cooperate with other elements of the CF and other federal government departments
to assert and enforce Canadian sovereignty, when and where necessary.
These ships will also provide the flexibility for the Navy to operate in both the Arctic and offshore environments,
allowing them to be used year-round in a variety of roles, including domestic surveillance, search and rescue, and
support to other government departments.
The Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship offers the best blend of capabilities in one platform; however, a ship with these
capabilities does not currently exist and would have to be designed to meet a series of high-level
Seakeeping: The A/OPSs must be able to operate independently and effectively in Canada’s EEZs, including
such diverse environments as the Canadian Arctic, the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and the northwest coast
of [Haida Gwaii] the Queen Charlotte Islands. The [A/OPS] must also be capable of navigating the St. Lawrence River
year-round and berthing at Quebec City.
Ice Capability: The [A/OPS hull] must be ice strengthened to operate in medium first-year ice,
which may include old ice inclusions – old ice that is denser and may strike the hull of the
ship. This ice capability is exclusively for the ships'own mobility, not to provide icebreaking services to other
Endurance/Range: The ship must have the ability to sustain operations for up to four months and must have a
range of at least 6,000 nautical miles [11,000 km].
Command and Control: The ship’s electronic equipment must have the ability to ensure safety of navigation and
flight, as well as sufficient command, control and communications capability to provide and receive real-time
information to and from the CF Common Operating Picture.
Speed: The ship must be able to maintain an economical speed of 14 knots [26 km/h] and attain a maximum speed
of at least 20 knots [37 km/h].
Armament: The ship must have gun armament to assert Canadian sovereignty.
Boat Operations: The ship's crew must be able to conduct boat operations in up to sea state four, support operations
ashore via landing craft, and support naval boarding parties.
Class Life: The six to eight ships should remain operational for 25 years.
The ship may also be designed to embark and operate an on-board helicopter, as well as house one flying crew and one
There is currently insufficient infrastructure in both Esquimalt and Halifax to berth the A/OPS. As a result, some
additional jetty infrastructure renewal [ at both CFB Esquimalt and Halifax] would be required. The project
will also establish a docking and refuelling facility in Nunavut [location unspecified]. These infrastructure costs
– estimated at approximately $274 million – will be included in the
The two-phased process of procuring the A/OPS will be an innovative, fair, and transparent means of
guaranteeing the requirements of the CF are met in a timely manner, while ensuring value for Canadians'tax
dollars and maximizing opportuni- ties for Canadian industry. Industrial and regional benefits
totalling 100 per cent of the contract value would be sought for the implementation contract.
A project definition phase of 24 months will be needed to develop the functional design, refine the high-level
statement of operational requirements (SOR), complete and issue the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the
implementation phase of the project and evaluate responses. A competitive process will be used to select a
Definition, Engineering, Logistics and Management Support (DELMS) contractor, who will develop the design used to
refine the requirements and provide input into the RFP. During this time, consulting engineering contractors will
also deliver a functional design for the infrastructure needed to support the A/OPS.
Throughout the project definition phase, industry will be kept engaged and inform- ed of progress and design work.
Interest from industry will be sought through a Letter of Interest to allow potential bidders to self-identify, and
qualified teams will be invited to comment on the draft project implementation (PI) RFP. The definition phase of the
procurement process would end with the release and evaluation of this RFP.
The implementation phase of the process would involve the successful contractor completing a detailed design of the
ships, followed by construction and the pro- vision of integrated logistics support, and initial in-service support.
Delivery of the first Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship is expected in 2013.
During this [implementation phase], realty assets required for the docking and re- fuelling facility in
Nunavut will also be acquired, and contracts will also be awarded for the construction and completion of the support
The procurement strategy would conform to the Canadian Shipbuilding Policy Framework, which provides that the
federal government will continue to procure, repair and refit vessels in Canada, subject to operational requirements
and the continued existence of a competitive domestic marketplace.
This acquisition will create long-term industrial development for Canadians. The Government's policy requires that
prime contractors on defence procurements undertake business activities in Canada, usually in an amount equal to the
value of the contract they have won. This helps Canadian companies maintain globally competitive operations in the
country and effectively support future national security requirements.
The acquisition of these ships will deliver maximum high-quality industrial benefits to Canadians and the Canadian
shipbuilding industry is well positioned to play a significant role as this project proceeds.