Comment and Articles

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Ottawa makes its $60B frigate project official, even as rival's court challenge goes forward

A long-awaited contract to design the Canadian navy’s next generation of warships — the kickoff to a $60-billion project — was formalized in Halifax today, even as a challenge of the contract process goes forward in Federal Court and critics question how completely the bids were evaluated.

Failed bidder is challenging the contract process in Federal Court


Murray Brewster
CBC News - Posted: Feb 08, 2019 4:00 AM ET


An artist's rendering of the British Type 26 frigate  (BAE Systems Inc./Lockheed Martin Canada)   

A long-awaited contract to design the Canadian navy's next generation of warships — the kickoff to a $60-billion project — was formalized in Halifax today, even as a challenge of the contract process goes forward in Federal Court and critics question how completely the bids were evaluated.

All of the paperwork for the design contract was signed in Ottawa on Thursday between the Liberal government, Lockheed Martin Canada, BAE Systems, Inc. and Irving Shipbuilding, the prime contractor, CBC News has learned.

The event in Halifax, involving two federal ministers and Nova Scotia politicians, marked the ceremonial start of a project that's expected to produce 15 warships to replace the navy's frontline frigates over the next decade and a half.

The initial contract is worth $185 million, but will increase over time as more support work is added as the warships are constructed.

"Our government is providing the Royal Canadian Navy with the ships it needs to do its important work of protecting Canadians," Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough said in a statement. "This procurement process for Canada's future fleet of Canadian Surface Combatants was conducted in an open, fair and transparent manner that yielded the best ship design, and design team, to meet our needs for many years to come."

The decision to award the contract to the Lockheed Martin-led team is the subject of a legal challenge by one of the other companies in the competition — Alion Science and Technology Corp. — and its subsidiary Alion Canada.

A third team, led by the Spanish company Navantia, also submitted a bid but has not challenged the decision.

Winning contract was only one screened for cost: sources

Sources within government and the defence industry said Thursday the federal officials running the competition who evaluated the bids did not look at the financial portion of the Alion and Navantia bids.

The competition was broken into multiple phases, with teams of federal officials evaluating different aspects of the complex pitches — screening them to ensure they met the navy's requirements and the federal government's demand for participation by Canadian industry.

The very last aspect to be considered, once the bids passed and were deemed compliant in those early stages, was cost and pricing.

The federal government, according to sources, said the only bid to be screened for cost was the Lockheed-Martin proposal, which pitched the British Type 26 design, also known as the Global Combat Ship.

It was the only bid deemed compliant, according to sources with knowledge of the file.

That has raised questions within the defence industry and among analysts, given the fact that both the Alion and Navantia designs involve warships that are already in service with other nations.

The Type 26 is just coming into production in Britain — a fact that figures prominently in the Federal Court case launched last fall by Alion.

In court filings, Alion argues that the winning bid was "incapable of meeting three critical mandatory requirements" of the design tender, including one requirement regarding speed.

The company said its proposal, the Dutch-designed De Zeven Provinciën Air Defence and Command (LCF) frigate, was the best solution for the Canadian navy.

Critics of the federal process have long claimed that the fix was in for the Lockheed-Martin Canada bid and that the design tender was tilted in order to ensure the company remained in the competition.

A 'hypothetical' price tag

Neither losing bidder has been told precisely what was wrong with their bids, but they are slated to be briefed now that the contract has been signed, said defence industry sources.

Defence analyst Dave Perry said the process was deliberately structured so that the navy got the ship it needed, not the cheapest one.

He also said that, at this point, the price tag is "still a hypothetical cost" because the federal government and the navy have yet to spell out in precise terms the electronics and weapons that will be included in the warships.

"There's a process of requirement reconciliation still to happen, with Irving and the Government of Canada going in and taking a hard look at what kind of design" they have got and how it can be modified to meet the navy's needs, he said.

An official in Qualtrough's office would not comment on the bidding results, but defended the process, saying it was a "complex and rigorous procurement" that included extensive consultations with the bidders and opportunities for them to correct deficiencies.

The selection was also overseen by a fairness monitor, the official added.

Ottawa pushes navy's planned supply ships to the front of the construction queue

Murray Brewster
CBC News • Posted: Feb 05, 2019 3:21 PM ET


Change in the construction schedule means coast guard may be waiting longer for a science vessel

A welder works on a Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel at the Seaspan shipyard in North Vancouver in 2016. (Seaspan)

The Liberal government has decided to pull out all the stops on the construction of the navy's planned permanent supply ships — a move that's raised questions about how quickly the Canadian Coast Guard will get a critical oceanographic science vessel.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) issued a statement Tuesday that announced the re-sequencing of the construction schedules for vessels being built at the Vancouver Shipyard, which is owned by Seaspan.

The company has already started preliminary construction work on the first of the navy's long-awaited Joint Support Ships and the federal government says the work will continue until the vessel is completed.

Under the National Shipbuilding Strategy, Seaspan was suppose to first construct three small fisheries research ships and a larger oceanographic vessel before working on the navy's long-awaited supply ships.

Adhering to that plan in the face of repeated organizational delays meant delivery of those supply ships — which are considered critical to allowing the navy to operate beyond Canadian shores — would not happen until 2023 at the earliest.

The Conservative connection that could be critical to Vice-Admiral Mark Norman's case

The PSPC statement said that once the first supply ship is finished, Seaspan will turn its attention to the coast guard oceanographic ship and then build the last planned naval supply ship.

"Given the complexity of this build, this change in sequencing will ensure focused engineering resources on each of the projects, while allowing for time between construction of the first and second [Joint Support Ship] to incorporate lessons learned," said PSPC spokesman Pierre-Alain Bujold in a statement.

"Moreover, this allows for uninterrupted work at the shipyard, mitigating the risk of potential layoffs and production gaps between builds."

Bujold said additional details on the construction schedule will be released at a later date.

The change to the schedule was, according to sources in the defence industry, agreed upon at the recent Trudeau government cabinet retreat in Sherbrooke, Que.

Rob Huebert, a defence expert at the University of Calgary, said the decision "leaves most people scratching their heads" because of the difficulty involved in getting a shipyard to switch up construction between different types of vessels.

"Why you would interrupt the building of ships by putting another style and class of vessel in the middle completely boggles my mind," said Huebert, a noted expert on the Arctic. "I don't know why you would do it."

If anything, he said, the federal government should simply build both naval ships and then move on the coast guard ship.

The re-sequencing means the navy could be waiting until the late 2020s for its second supply vessel, which would make the program a multi-decade odyssey.

The Liberal government of former prime minister Paul Martin originally ordered the replacement of the auxiliary ships in 2004, but the program was cancelled in 2008 by the Conservatives when cost estimates exceeded the budget envelope.

Huebert said Tuesday's announcement also raises questions about when Canadians will see the heavy icebreaker that Seaspan is also slated to build.

The PSPC website says the program is under review and "no activities are planned until work on other projects has advanced."

The federal government apparently has not yet formally notified Seaspan of the schedule change, although the shipyard has awarded a series of sub-contracts to companies such as INDAL in Mississauga, Ont., and L3 MAPPS in Montreal, for supply ship components.

Seaspan is expected to announce another contract on Wednesday with Lockheed Martin Canada related to the supply ships.

Ever since the Conservatives cancelled the first iteration of the supply ship project, the federal government has struggled to get it back on track, setting and missing several deadlines.

The supply ships were supposed to arrive in 2017. The date was pushed back to 2019, and then to 2022. The absence of a supply ship prompted the Davie shipyard, in Levis, Que., to pitch a converted civilian cargo ship for navy use.

That $668 million lease deal is at the centre of the breach-of-trust case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. Davie is pitching the federal government on leasing another cargo ship.

A spokesman for Davie, Frederik Boisvert, called Tuesday's decision "an insult to taxpayers" and claimed that Seaspan has failed to deliver on the supply ship project and "should be blacklisted by the government and not rewarded for failure."

The effect of switching up the schedule means the navy might not need a second supply ship leasing deal.

Sources within the coast guard and the defence industry have said that the design and project coordination for the fisheries science vessel is not as far advanced as the navy supply ship program and that is an important factor in the federal government's timing decision.






December 2018

Dear RUSI Members,

On behalf of the Executive and Board of Directors of RUSI Vancouver I extend hearty Season’s Greetings and every good wish for a healthy and fulfilling New Year!

New RUSI Badge

We can now announce the new, long-awaited, Royal United Services Institute Vancouver Society badge recently approved by the Chief Herald of Canada. The simplified design, shown above, is based on the previous RUSI emblem. It shows crossed swords representing the Army, the wings the RCAF, the anchor the RCN, the mural crown emblem of civic authority, the red background emblematic of the RCMP. Royal designation was given the Institute by Her Majesty the Queen in 1989.

The Latin phrase meaning “Work for peace, prepare for war’” conveys RUSI’s mandate for research, education and advocacy on defence issues. The concept originated with Christopher Mackie and Bruce Patterson, the Deputy Chief Herald of Canada. The new badge will be available, along with a new lapel pin, early in the new year. Members will be advised on the cost and availability of the badge when supplies are received from the manufacturer.

New Membership Secretary

We’re pleased to advise that Heather Garrison has agreed to chair the Membership Committee effective January 1, replacing Bob Mugford. Bob will continue as Secretary and as Editor of the RUSI Newsletter for which we’re very grateful. He has been doing ’triple duty’ on these key jobs for several years; commitments that are highly appreciated by everyone. Heather Garrison has a range of experience managing not-for-profit memberships and is ready to volunteer her skills for RUSI Vancouver.

Membership Renewal

Please renew your RUSI membership without delay. Send your annual dues of $50.00 by cheque to: RUSI Vancouver, Bessborough Armoury, 2025 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6J 2C7. Or, hand the cheque (or cash) to a member of the Executive at any Wednesday lunch in the 15Fd Officer’s Mess. Lunches resume on January 9, 2019. If your postal or e-mail address, or phone/mobile numbers have changed, please advise Heather Garrison at or at 604 737 7088.

Looking Ahead

The RUSI Speaker Series will continue in the new year. The first series of lectures took place this past fall on Wednesday’s from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. We thank the 15Fd (RCA) Officer’s Mess for its cooperation. The next series will again be held in the Mess from February through April 2019. Timing will remain the same while dates, topics and speakers will be announced early in the new year. Check for this information and other events and activities that are being considered by RUSI Vancouver for 2019 for which members will be invited to be involved and encouraged to attend.

Cam Cathcart, President
Royal United Services Institute Vancouver Society

On Huawei and 5G, Canada must unapologetically pursue our national interest

Contributed to The Globe and Mail - Updated December 6, 2018


Richard Fadden is a former national security adviser to the Prime Minister;
Brian Lee Crowley is the managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

On Nov. 28, New Zealand joined Australia and the United States in banning Chinese telecom giant Huawei from participating in the next-generation mobile data networks. One of New Zealand’s largest telecommunications networks had proposed using Huawei’s equipment in its 5G networks, but the government rejected it on the grounds that it posed “significant national security risks.”

This decision has now placed Canada in the uncomfortable position of being a minority among its partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing community. While the United Kingdom has not yet formally banned Huawei, Britain’s main telecom company, BT Group Plc, has announced they will not use Huawei 5G equipment. Now Washington has begun a campaign to dissuade its allies from doing 5G business with Huawei on security grounds.

There are plenty of reasons why intelligence professionals are alarmed by Huawei’s involvement in our 5G networks.

When we hear the name Huawei, the company wants us to picture slick smartphones and a normal telecommunications firm endowed with what its advertising calls a “higher intelligence.”

Yet, it is not a normal telecom company. Founded by a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Huawei is extremely close to the upper echelons of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Indeed, Huawei operates in what the PRC calls a strategic sector, a core of their domestic security interests. The company supplies the PLA itself and is officially referred to as a national champion.

China has a long history of conducting extensive cyberespionage operations against the West. Canada is not immune: There is evidence of the Chinese hacking Nortel(before its demise in 2009), the National Research Council and the potash industry. Ottawa has experienced breaches in energy, natural resources and the environment, and China is widely thought to be the culprit.

The close relationship between Huawei and a Chinese government with a history of cyberespionage should be worrisome. Add the fact that China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law gives Beijing the power to compel Huawei’s support for its intelligence work, and the red flags become too numerous to ignore.

Rather than a “higher intelligence,” a better catchphrase for Huawei might be a “covert intelligence” – one that is neither innocent nor friendly to the West.

Britain has not yet banned Huawei, but they too are increasingly wary.

For instance, the U.K.’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre admits the equipment it has tested might not match what Huawei uses, concluding that it can no longer provide “long-term technical assurance … around Huawei.” Yet Ottawa relies on the exact kind of equipment testing to support its claim that Huawei poses no national security threat.

Huawei already has extensive relationships with Canadian institutions of higher learning, including a promised $50-million to 13 universities to develop 5G technology. Not only would Canada be reliant, then, on Huawei software and hardware for its next generation of wireless communications technology, but Huawei may well end up owning the patents of 5G technologies that arise from these research partnerships.

Curiously, Ottawa refuses to allow Huawei to bid on federal contracts, a strange position for a government that seems relatively sanguine about the Chinese giant’s presence in the development of a wireless network that will soon transmit our most sensitive information.

It is not too late for Canada to reject the firm’s participation in 5G. Ottawa is currently conducting a security review designed to analyze cyberthreats from companies just like Huawei. It is difficult to see how such a review could conclude that Huawei’s support in 5G doesn’t pose a serious and unacceptable security risk.

We have no reason to doubt the expertise and good faith of Canada’s cyberdefenders, but – and it’s a big but – they can’t know what they don’t know, and that fact alone involves considerable risk. Allowing Huawei access to our 5G network means we are giving our cyberadversaries the means to learn how to defeat our defences. And once they have done so, it is too late.

Denying Huawei participation in our 5G network is not a rejection of engagement with China. Rather, it is doing exactly what China is doing – unapologetically and energetically pursuing our national interest. Like many Western countries, we are often bedazzled by China’s economic potential and therefore fail to ensure our national interests aren’t sacrificed in the pursuit of access to Chinese markets.

These two objectives must go hand in glove. A fruitful relationship requires that we gain China’s respect. The indispensable precondition of that respect is that we assert and protect our national interests – and those of our allies – with vigour and clarity.

The following comment on Canada’s military procurement process and call for political cohesion on the issue is provided by Col (Ret’d) Patrick M. Dennis, OMM, CD. Col Dennis is author of ‘Reluctant Warriors’ and an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. For related comment see the article (below) by John Ivison, reprinted from the National Post of November 30, 2018. The opinions expressed in the following comment are those of Mr. Dennis.

The article below (from Air Force Magazine) puts the F-35 delivery process in focus. A decade ago Canada needed to make some smart decisions. Successive governments failed to do so and have relegated the RCAF to a support role. These aircraft are now at least five years away, and more likely seven. At that point we will be like the Baltic countries, or maybe some of the South American republics.

But let's be honest, despite successful, albeit very painful, procurement efforts in all three services, the lack of a bi-partisan defence decision-making process has steadily eroded the overall capabilities of the Canadian Forces for half a century now. Think back to the White Paper in 1987 when we were going to buy 10-12 nuclear submarines.

Credible defence and deterrence is not cheap. But our frugality is an international embarrassment. And false pride in an underfunded, underequipped and undermanned institution is a key part of the problem. Our leaders continue to boast about doing more with less, when we all know that to be false. And just because there are serious "plans" to procure new kit should not obscure the fact that all of it is late to need, sometimes by nearly three decades in the case of the Sea King.

What to do? Politically, all parties need to abandon divisive rhetoric on this file and embrace an entirely new requirements approval and procurement process, one that is committed to expeditiously providing the services, equipment and personnel needed carry out national defence and security objectives. Militarily, it is time to separate NDHQ from CFHQ, with all that this entails. Integrating the two HQs has only served to reduce the military to a shell of its former self, thus preventing the Government from effectively implementing national defence objectives.

Some will argue that such an approach is unaffordable. But it IS affordable. Canadians need to make some tough decisions, though, and I am not talking about reducing transfer payments or health care. But first we have to agree that defence spending is not a luxury or an afterthought but is a fundamental pre-requisite to meeting all other national needs, as opposed to wants. Absent such consensus, I fear the worst. But I have been wrong before.

Patrick M. Dennis, Colonel (Ret’d) OMM, CD

Australia Receives First Two In-Country F-35s

Amy McCullough
Reprinted from Air Force (US) Magazine of December 11, 2018


Australia on Sunday, December 10, 2018, received its first two F-35 strike fighters to be based in country at Royal Australian Air Force Williamtown. Australia already has received 10 of the fifth-generation fighters, but the other aircraft are assigned to Luke AFB, Arizona, as part of the international cooperative F-35 training operations there, according to a Lockheed Martin release.

With the delivery, Australia is now the seventh country to locally base F-35s, joining the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Israel, and Japan. “Australia plays a significant role in the program with the suite of local industrial technology and know-how behind the hundreds of F-35s flying today, as well as the thousands of F-35s that will be produced in the future,” said Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Australia Vince Di Pietro.

More than 340 F-35s are now operating from 16 bases across the globe, including Williamtown. The total fleet has accumulated more than 170,000 flight hours, and more than 700 pilots and 6,500 maintainers have been training, according to Lockheed.

In 2010, several members of the Naval Officers Association of BC (NOABC) decided to salute the role of BC’s shipyards during World War Two. The project eventually transitioned into a monument to include all workers in the BC shipbuilding industry. The following article in the July-August issue of BC Shipping News by RUSI President Cam Cathcart, outlines the eight year journey of the project, with a few nautical miles left before it’s completed.

...why isn’t there something tangible on the Vancouver waterfront to salute
the legacy of B.C.’s proud and illustrious shipbuilding industry?

Honouring B.C.’s legendary shipbuilding industry

by Cameron Cathcart

Curious how projects get started. Many have a definite purpose. Others, the result of a dream. The shipbuilding monument project began with a question: why isn’t there something tangible on the Vancouver waterfront to salute the legacy of B.C.’s proud and illustrious shipbuilding industry? That question got a few people thinking in 2010.

The Metro Vancouver Naval Monument Society was formed, and the concept of a memorial began to take shape. The idea was to position a statue of a Second World War shipyard worker on the North Vancouver waterfront. But, that hectic period of non-stop shipbuilding also included thousands of women, along with navy personnel acting as advisors. It was clear that all three had to be represented in a shipbuilding monument. The next step was to engage a sculptor.

The artist chosen was Norm Williams, who had recently completed the monument to B.C.’s fishing industry and its workers situated outside the old Steveston Cannery, now the Gulf of Georgia National Historic Site in Richmond, B.C. His first task was to develop a maquette, or model, showing the three statues in various poses within the parameters of a single monument. Mr. Williams has since created the Roger Neilson and Pat Quinn statues located at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

Unfortunately, the initial flurry of excitement for a shipbuilding monument began to wane at this time and for several years the project suffered an overall lack of enthusiasm. That changed in 2017 when the Naval Officer’s Association of BC (NOABC) announced plans to mark its 100th anniversary at a fall 2019 conference in North Vancouver. This sparked renewed interest by the Society and the monument project was revived in earnest.

By now, project costs had increased substantially and it was obvious the final price for the shipbuilding monument would be much higher than originally contemplated back in 2010. Also, urban renewal had changed the old Burrard Dry Dock site at the North Vancouver waterfront with the area that now includes an art gallery, a new hotel, a residential complex, public market, restaurants, boardwalk and a public pier.

The Society now had to re-engage with the City of North Vancouver to determine where the monument could be located on the revitalized waterfront. Meanwhile, the North Vancouver Arts Advisory Committee, along with the North Vancouver Museum and Archives, were consulted for artistic design and historical accuracy of the sculpture components. These were approved, and the City endorsed the project, agreeing that the monument be located east of the new pier on the North Vancouver waterfront boardwalk.

The building of vessels on the British Columbia coast has a long history. Well before European contact, coastal Indigenous people built large, sea-going dugout canoes for fishing, whaling, transportation and war. The first ship built on the B.C. coast by Europeans was at Friendly Cove, now Yuquot, in Nookta Sound in the early 1790s.

As European settlement took hold in the late 1800s, various types of vessels were built by B.C. shipbuilders over the years such as deep-sea sailing ships, paddle wheelers, lake ferries, tugs, fish boats and the occasional pleasure craft. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that U.K.-built passenger ships, used for West Coast service, began to be phased out and replaced mainly by vessels built in B.C. shipyards.

For most of the 20th century, the North Vancouver waterfront housed the largest shipyard in western Canada, with more than 450 ships launched from the site throughout this period. Opened in 1906 as Wallace Shipyard and re-named Burrard Dry Dock in 1921, tugs and barges for the forest industry, navy vessels, ferries, small cargo ships and icebreakers were launched from this historic location including the St. Roch, the RCMP schooner that achieved fame by traversing the Arctic in both directions in the 1940s.

The busiest and most record-setting activity on the North Vancouver waterfront occurred during the Second World War. Burrard Dry Dock, along with neighbouring North Van Ship Repairs, built close to 250 of Canada’s wartime Victory ships and 50 naval vessels, establishing a reputation for high standards of workmanship. Between 1939 and 1945, more than 14,000 workers were employed in round the clock shifts at Burrard, including 1,000 women, to feed the war effort. The B.C. shipyard was the first in Canada to hire women during the war. They filled the gap while men went to war with jobs ranging from store-keeping to welding.

When the war ended in 1945, shipbuilding in B.C. dropped dramatically and thousands of workers were let go, including all the women hired during the war. But, new contracts slowly picked up as the post-war economy began to surge. These included modern tugs, self-loading log barges, cargo ships, coastal tankers, patrol boats, state of the art icebreakers, arctic oil exploration ships and passenger and railcar ferries. In the 1950s the Royal Canadian Navy also began to modernize its fleet with new destroyers, several of which were built in B.C. shipyards.

Today, two replenishment ships have been ordered by the Royal Canadian Navy, along with a polar icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. All three vessels are at the final design stage at Seaspan Shipyards in North Vancouver, from which the first of three fisheries research vessels were recently launched. Along with building new ships, for several years cruise ship, ferry and navy vessel repair and upgrading work have been consistent and reliable activities for British Columbia’s shipyards.

The shipbuilding monument needs $350,000 to be completed and installed on the North Vancouver waterfront by October, 2019. To meet this challenge the Metro Vancouver Naval Monument Society has launched an appeal for contributions at eight levels that reflect the type of ships built by B.C.’s shipbuilders, ranging from Minesweeper to Victory Ship to Naval Supply Ship, to mention just three.

The monument will consist of three bronze statues that show a male worker using a torch to bend pipes, a female worker taking a break, while a naval petty officer unrolls ship plans. It is designed to engage people, with sculptures positioned at ground level on the walkway east of the North Vancouver waterfront pier.

The shipbuilding monument will salute the legendary British Columbia shipbuilding industry and its workers, and for its support of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Merchant Marine during the Second World War.

The project began with a question: why is there no tangible recognition of British Columbia’s proud and illustrious history of shipbuilding?

The answer is the shipbuilding monument, now ready to be launched.

World War I from the journal of Captain Fred G. Coxen RFA (Royal Field Artillery)

From the PREFACE:

"My purpose for writing this book was to honor my grandfather by telling his story. In addition I wanted to impart to the reader the experiences, as well as the conditions of war, and what it was like trying to survive each day.

"The story is based on the World War 1 journal written by Captain Frederick G. Coxen, who served in the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) from 1905 to 1919."

Download the entire book (158 pages) HERE.


RUSI Vancouver members gather for lunch on Wednesdays at 12:00 Noon at the Officers' Mess of the 15th Field Regiment (RCA) located in the Bessborough Armouries, 2025 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.