Halifax-class modernization and frigate life extension


Ever wondered what it takes to rebuild a warship? Find out with this Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) documentary on the Halifax Class Modernization/Frigate Life Extension project. It reveals the scope and detail of this multi-billion dollar project.

In the documentary, RCN sailors explain why the frigates needed upgrading, the complexity of the task, and the meticulously planned and executed engineering challenges. An RCN commodore and three commanding officers walk through the process, from the fine details to the big picture.

Various specialists discuss some of the daunting details that must be completed correctly if the project is to succeed. In addition to fresh and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and cutting-edge, time-lapse sequences, the show harkens back through RCN film archives to show two of the ships being launched in the early 1990s, and one of the current commanding officers as a young lieutenant, interviewed on the bridge wing of HMCS Vancouver during its maiden re-positioning voyage from Halifax to Victoria more than two decades ago.

The 12 Canadian-built multi-role patrol frigates are considered the backbone of the RCN and can deploy anywhere in the world – with NATO or with individual allied nations.

Project summary

The Royal Canadian Navy’s 12 Canadian-built Halifax-class multi-role patrol frigates have reached the middle of their life and are undergoing a refit. The Halifax-Class Modernization program is on-budget and currently expected to cost $4.3 billion.

The ships are the backbone of the Navy. They can deploy anywhere in the world, either independently or with NATO or individual allied nations. Commissioned between 1992 and 1996, they are receiving state-of-the-art upgrades that include a new Combat Management System, new radar capability, new electronic warfare systems and upgraded communications and missile systems.

The modernized Halifax-class frigates will serve as a bridge to the future fleet and, along with Kingston-class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels and Victoria-class submarines, will allow the Navy to continue to deliver on its core mission until the arrival of the Canadian Surface Combatants.

Project phases

Currently in Phase 4: Implementation


1. Identification

1. Identification

  • Not available
2. Options analysis

2. Options analysis

  • Not available
3. Definition

3. Definition

  • Project Approval Definition February 2005
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Request for proposal for multi-ships contract (i.e. with the two shipyards): July 2007
  • Request for proposal for combat system integration design and build: February 2008
  • Project approval implementation: September 2008
  • Contract award: November 2008
  • First delivery: June 2012
  • Initial operational capability: February 2015
  • Full operational capability: January 2018
5. Close-out

5. Close-out

  • January 2019


Additional information

Project updates

Project updates

August 2016
Nine of the Royal Canadian Navy’s 12 frigates have been returned to the Navy and are now ready to deploy on operations and exercises around the world. Two frigates are in their reactivation phase and one frigate is in refit. From late 2014 to early 2016, two of the Navy’s recently modernized frigates, HMCS Fredericton and HMCS Winnipeg, were successfully deployed on Operation REASSURANCE.

April 2016
HMCS Regina was returned to the Navy to complete sea trials and for use in future operations and exercises around the world, marking a major milestone. It is the fifth and final frigate on the west coast to complete its modernization by Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyard Co. Ltd.

Three modernized frigates participated in the following exercises:

Late 2014
The first modernized frigate re-entered service.

More updates for the Halifax-class modernization and frigate life extension project

Benefiting Canadian industry

Benefiting Canadian industry

Industrial and Regional Benefits

In addition, based on the management and success of the program, it has become a partnership model for future shipbuilding projects and has been recognized internationally. The Department of National Defence (DND) assisted the New Zealand Ministry of Defence with their decision to upgrade the combat systems on their ANZAC-class ships. DND provided valuable information to New Zealand on the Combat Management System, installed as part the Halifax-Class Modernization and Frigate Life Extension project, and shared our modernization experiences.


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

The Halifax-Class Modernization program is a highly complex and collaborative effort between the Government of Canada and more than 30 companies within the Canadian defence industry. Together, they are delivering a first-class capability, on-time and on-budget while also ensuring robust economic benefits to Canada. Some of the prime companies involved in this program are:


Technical information

Technical information

The project includes the modernization and refitting of the fleet with state-of-the-art upgrades such as:

  • a new Combat Management System
  • a new radar suite
  • an internal communications system upgrade
  • a harpoon missile system upgrade (surface-to-surface)
  • a multi-link system
  • new electronic warfare systems
  • modifications to the 57 mm naval gun
  • enhanced capability to employ the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (surface-to-air)
  • a new Integrated Platform Management System offering better damage control
  • modern electronic and machinery control
  • other preventive, corrective and mid-life maintenance activities


  • Length: 134 metres
  • Width: 16 metres
  • Weight: 4,770 tonnes
  • Crew size: 225 personnel

More information on the Halifax-class Canadian Patrol Frigate

Project costs

Project costs

The Halifax-Class Modernization program is on-budget and currently expected to cost $4.3 billion.

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