With the help of Irving Shipbuilding, Canada has started manufacturing the production test module (PTM) for its future Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC), recently designated the River-class destroyer fleet.

The PTM will allow industry to test and streamline processes, and implement lessons learned into the build process ahead of full rate production in 2025. Delivery of the first River-class destroyer, HMCS Fraser, is expected in the early 2030s, with the final ship expected by 2050.

As a powerful and multi-functional ship, the River-class CSC is by definition a destroyer: a fast, manoeuvrable, anti-aircraft and anti-submarine long-endurance warship, which can escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy, or carrier battle group and defend them against a wide range of general threats.

Although the multi-mission warship is based on the British Type 26 frigate design, the platform is designated a DDGH, or as Nato puts it: ‘destroyer, guided missile, helicopter capable’. Besides the UK Royal Navy’s new City-class and the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) River-class, Australia has also opted for the Type 26 to form its Hunter-class warships.

Often referred to as Canada’s largest ever shipbuilding project on a level unseen since the Second World War, the multi-mission CSC fleet will replace both the Navy’s four retired Iroquois and 12 Halifax-class ships. These existing ships collectively comprise systems needed to combat threats in open oceans and in littoral waters.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Athabaskan, an Iroquois-class destroyer, arrives at the port of St. John’s Newfoundland during Exercise Cutlass Fury, 23 September 2016. Credit: Corporal Kenneth Galbraith/Royal Canadian Navy.

The project is currently budgeted between C$56-60bn ($41-44bn) before taxes, and includes the cost for 15 new warships, as well as all the components required to design, build, and bring these ships into service (design work, infrastructure, ammunition, technical data, initial training, project management, and contingency costs).

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In February 2024, the US Department of Defense extended a contract with CACI, a US-based security systems supplier, for technical engineering and support for the forthcoming fleet for another year.

The RCN has a number of ongoing major naval vessel programmes, including the future Protecteur-class Joint Support Ships, DeWolf-class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, and the CSC programme.