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

The current budget for the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) is $26.2 billion for up to 15 ships. The actual cost and number of vessels to be built 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.

The CSC will be Canada’s major surface component of maritime combat power. The CSC has effective warfare capability and is versatile. 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:

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

The CSC project, which is part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, will replace the capabilities provided by the destroyers (Iroquois-class) and the multi-role patrol frigates (Halifax-class). 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: June 2012
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Implementation project approval: Early 2020s
  • Construction contract award: Early 2020s
  • First delivery:  Late 2020s
  • Initial operational capability: Late 2020s
  • Full operational capability: Mid 2040s
5. Close-out

5. Close-out

  • Late 2040s


Additional information

Project updates

Project updates

June 13, 2016
The Government of Canada 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 of Canada 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
  • The intended final draft documents for the upcoming Definition subcontract RFP will be issued by Irving to pre-qualified bidders to select the subcontractor who will provide the design and conduct the necessary modifications. It is anticipated to be released in Fall 2016. Following evaluation of the proposals, Irving anticipates awarding the subcontract for the design and modifications in Spring 2017.

April 1, 2016
Canada 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
Canada 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 of Canada took the opportunity to further assess a potentially more streamlined procurement approach for the CSC warships.

May 2015
The Government of Canada 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 Inc. and Canada 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 of Canada 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 Canada 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 Inc., 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 current budget for the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) is $26.2 billion for up to 15 ships. The actual cost and number of vessels to be built 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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