Canada’s multibillion-dollar project to buy a replacement for its frigates is so poorly structured that one of the world’s largest shipbuilders has warned the Liberal government it won’t bid unless changes are made.
A number of other ship designers are also considering backing out because of the problems plaguing the project to spend more than $26 billion on a new fleet of Canadian Surface Combatants.
Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri sent Procurement Minister Judy Foote a detailed outline of why the acquisition process is in trouble, warning that, “Canada is exposed to unnecessary cost uncertainty,” according to the Oct. 24, 2016, letter obtained by Postmedia.
There is also a belief in industry circles that the federal government is favouring a design from the British firm BAE, which is offering the Royal Canadian Navy the Type 26 warship.
Foote had previously said only proven warship designs would be considered to reduce the risk of problems. But the Liberal government retreated on that and will now accept a Type 26 bid, even though the vessel has not been built yet.
Preparing a bid for the Canadian Surface Combatant or CSC will cost companies between $10 million and $20 million. If they see their chances of winning a contract as slim, firms could decide not to enter the competition, further narrowing the choices for the Liberals on a new vessel for the navy.
The government announced Oct. 27, 2016, that Irving Shipbuilding, its prime contractor, had issued a request for bids from companies on the design of the new ships.
We actually saw this during the efforts to rearm the Rangers. Canada wanted firms to give them their intellectual property for a rifle that Canada would manufacture. Now we see it with the Canadian Surface Combatants. No wonder firms are balking.