Arctic and offshore patrol ships



Bounded by three oceans and home to the Great Lakes, Canada defends more coastline than any other country on Earth.

After several shipwrecks during the 1700s, lifeboats and light stations were introduced to Canadas east coast. In the 1800s, patrol vessels started protecting and enforcing fishing and shipping regulations. These were the foundations of the Canadian Coast Guard.

When the Second World War began, Canada had just ten vessels. When the war ended, the Royal Canadian Navy was the fourth largest in the world. During peace time, a balance was struck between those humble beginnings and the fleet of the 1940s.

Today, Canada protects its maritime approaches from smuggling, trafficking, and pollution. The services provide life-saving search and rescue as well as opportunities for scientific research. Canadas navy also acts internationally, to meet our commitments and protect our interests.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy charts the course for the new federal fleet.

It is an important shift in shipbuilding, from working project-by-project to a long-term approach and strategic relationships with two Canadian shipyards to build large vessels.

Canada will sustain skilled jobs across the country, in shipbuilding and related industries, for generations to come.

Project summary

The Arctic and offshore patrol ship (AOPS) project involves the delivery of six ice-capable ships. The current full life cycle cost estimate for the AOPS project is $9 billion over their planned 25-year operational life.

The AOPS will provide armed, sea-borne surveillance of Canadian waters, including in the Arctic. They will enforce Canadian sovereignty, co-operating with partners within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and other government departments when necessary and will provide the government with awareness of activities in Canada’s waters.

The AOPS can operate effectively in the Arctic, providing a greater CAF presence in the north, and be able to operate longer between June and October, the time when Arctic waters can be navigated.

Phases of the Arctic and offshore patrol ships project

Currently in Phase 4: Implementation

1. Identification

1. Identification

  • Steps to be defined
2. Options analysis

2. Options analysis

  • Steps to be defined
3. Definition

3. Definition

  • Project approval definition: December 2012
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Project approval implementation: December 2014
  • Contract award: January 2015
  • First delivery:  2018
  • Initial operational capability: 2019
  • Full operational capability: 2023
5. Close-out

5. Close-out

  • Steps to be defined

Additional information

Project updates

Project updates

September 2015

Construction of the first AOPS ship began. It has been designated the Harry DeWolf-class in honour of Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf, a Canadian wartime naval hero. Five other ships will complete the AOPS fleet, with four already having received names: 

  • HMCS Margaret Brooke
  • HMCS Max Bernays
  • HMCS William Hall
  • HMCS Frédérick Rolette

The AOPS project also includes jetty infrastructure in Esquimalt, B.C., Halifax, N.S., and Nanisivik, Nunavut.

January 2015

The Government of Canada announces a $2.6 billion contract (taxes included) to Irving Shipbuilding Inc. to build the Arctic and offshore patrol ships, marking the start of the construction phase under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.


Benefiting Canadian Industry

Commitment to Canadian Industry

Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has the contract to build the Arctic and offshore patrol ships


The build contract is for six ships. The contract is structured to include significant incentives to keep shipbuilding costs down and deliver six ships within a ceiling price. If costs increase due to unforeseen factors, the contract guarantees the delivery of five ships within that same ceiling price.

If five ships are delivered to DND, the Navy will still have a well-equipped fleet capable of carrying out its missions and operations. However, this could result in reallocting frigate resources to supplement AOPS, as required.


Technical Information

AOPS specifications

AOPS specifications

  • Length: 103 metres
  • Beam: 19 metres
  • Complement: 65
Project costs

Project costs

The current full life cycle cost estimate for the AOPS project is $9 billion over their planned 25-year operational life. This includes the acquisition budget of $3.5 billion for ship construction and jetty infrastructure.

The $3.5 billion acquisition budget for the AOPS includes the following: 

  • ship design
  • project management
  • materials and labour needed to build all the ships
  • jetty infrastructure
  • spare parts
  • technical data
  • training of crew
  • contingency
  • inflation

An additional $5.5 billion is budgeted to meet projected personnel, operations and maintenance costs for the ships and jetties over their planned operational life.



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