Canadian Surface Combatant


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

Canada’s defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged” (SSE), has committed to investing in 15 Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) ships. These ships will be Canada’s major surface component of maritime combat power. With its effective warfare capability and versatility, it can be deployed rapidly anywhere in the world, either independently or as part of a Canadian or international coalition. The CSC will be able to deploy for many months with a limited logistic footprint.

The CSC will be able to conduct a broad range of tasks, in various scenarios, including:

  • decisive combat power at sea and support during land operations
  • counter-piracy, counter terrorism, interdiction and embargo operations for medium intensity operations
  • the delivery of humanitarian aid, search and rescue, law and sovereignty enforcement for regional engagements

The construction of the first CSC vessel is expected to begin in the early-2020s.

SSE estimates these ships will cost $56-60 billion. Further costs for personnel, operations, and maintenance for the life cycle of the CSC ships are greatly influenced by the ship design and will therefore only be available later in the process.

The CSC project, which is part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, will replace both the Iroquois-class destroyers and the Halifax-class multi-role patrol frigates with a single class of ship capable of meeting multiple threats on both the open ocean and the highly complex coastal environment. The CSC project is the largest and most complex shipbuilding initiative in Canada since World War II.

Project phases

Currently in Phase 3: Definition

1. Identification

1. Identification

  • Completed through the National Shipbuilding Strategy
2. Options analysis

2. Options analysis

  • Completed through the National Shipbuilding Strategy
3. Definition

3. Definition

  • Project approval (Phase 2A): June 2017
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Implementation project approval: Early 2020s
  • Construction contract award: Early 2020s
  • First delivery: Mid 2020s
5. Close-out

5. Close-out

  • Late 2040s


Additional information

Project updates

Project updates

November 30, 2017

Definition Subcontract Request for Proposal (RFP) closes, beginning the evaluation process that will select an existing warship design for the new surface combatants. The design will be revised and evolved to meet RCN’s requirements and will incorporate Canadian systems and equipment.

November 10, 2017

An additional extension was announced stating the RFP will close on November 30, 2017.

September 20, 2017

Eligible bidders were informed the RFP will close on November 17, 2017.

June 19, 2017

The Government of Canada and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. began a voluntary compliance review of the draft bids submitted by the bidders, in accordance with the CSC Definition Subcontract RFP.

June 5, 2017

A second extension was granted, and the deadline for bid submissions was communicated to be “no sooner than mid-August 2017.”

February 16, 2017

At the request of the 12 eligible bidders, the Government and Irving Shipbuilding extended the bid submission deadline by eight weeks, and the RFP was to close on June 22, 2017.

October 27, 2016

The final documents for the Definition Subcontract RFP were issued by Irving Shipbuilding to select the CSC Design Subcontractor. A robust question-and-answer process followed the RFP release and is ongoing.

June 13, 2016
The Government announced a refined procurement approach to simplify the procurement process, reduce design risks and potentially allow construction to begin sooner. This new approach maintains all of the project objectives and continues to leverage meaningful economic opportunities for the Canadian marine sector.

Between May and the end of August 2016
The Government held four separate industry engagement sessions with pre-qualified bidders to solicit industry feedback on the CSC in the following areas:

  • The draft high-level systems requirements for the CSC
  • The Definition Subcontract Request for Proposal (RFP) and Value Proposition. Discussions revolved around industry’s plan to undertake work and invest in Canada that will need to be evaluated as part of their bid proposals. Price and technical considerations were also discussed
  • The Combat Management Systems Software Support Contract (CMS SSC) and its inclusion of this item into the Definition Subcontract RFP were discussed. Industry feedback was sought on this topic because the selected supplier of the combat systems will also be required to provide CMS software support services to Canada

April 1, 2016
The Government released a Request for Information to collect industry advice on how to best support opportunities for Canadian equipment manufacturers and suppliers over the life of the project.

Between February 23 and 26, 2016
The Government held four industry engagement days to brief industry on the potential refinement of the procurement approach and to solicit industry feedback. 

Summer and fall of 2015
The Government took the opportunity to further assess a potentially more streamlined procurement approach for the CSC warships.

May 2015
The Government announced the selected procurement strategy to build the CSC. The approved procurement strategy consisted of a competitive sourcing approach that would have led to the selection of a single Combat System Integrator and a single Warship Designer who would have subsequently worked with Irving Shipbuilding and the Government to design, develop, integrate and deliver the combatant ships.

January 2015
Industry was informed that Irving Shipbuilding Inc. would be the prime contractor for both the project definition and implementation phases.

From 2013 to 2016
A series of industry engagements were held to solicit industry input on Canada’s proposed requirements and procurement strategy. 

February 2012
The Government reached agreements with Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. This charted the course for construction of Canada’s combat and non-combat surface fleets under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

The strategic sourcing arrangements, called umbrella agreements, between the Government and each of the selected shipyards have been signed. Individual ship construction contracts will now be negotiated with the respective shipyards.

Benefiting Canadian industry

Benefiting Canadian industry

Industrial and Regional Benefits


Some of the links below lead to websites that are not part of the Government of Canada and may be available in English only.

Recognizing the complexity of the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) project, the Government is taking a measured approach to project definition by extensively consulting with industry to determine the optimal ship design, costs, and timelines and to set the course for the subsequent phases of the project.

Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has been selected as the prime contractor for both the project definition and implementation phases for the CSC. Irving Shipbuilding, as the prime contractor, will issue a subcontract to the company selected.

Technical information

Technical information

Through the design-then-build approach, the ship designs will be reviewed, refined and matured to get all of the production details right.  This approach is closest to the cost estimate for project implementation, while minimizing technical risks during the construction phase.

Project costs

Project costs

The acquisition is for 15 ships to replace Canada’s destroyers and frigates, with an estimated cost of $56-60 billion. The actual cost will be determined after the CSC Project Definition Phase is complete. The construction of the first CSC vessel is expected to begin in the early-2020s.

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