AOPS sea trials

Building Navy Ships in Canada

The National Shipbuilding (Procurement) Strategy (NSS) to build ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard was announced in 2010. That’s 10 years ago. So where are the ships? Some have been built but, as we’re learning, it takes a long time from the announcement that a ship will be built to the actual operation of the ship - and the costs always go up. Why? One of the main reasons for cost increases is that the initial number that the government announces is just an estimate. Getting good data to make an accurate assessment of cost is difficult, particularly when you are building a ship of a new design. Industry and government make an educated estimate which changes over time as more details and capabilities are determined. Factors that were used to estimate costs will change over time - the price of steel will increase, the cost and complexity of technology changes, interest rates go up and down, the labour market changes, the purchasing power of the Canadian dollar goes up and down, and so on.

AOPS build at ISI

And why does it take so long to build the ships? After the government has been persuaded to spend the money, then you have to decide on the design and the shipyard. One of the reasons that ships have been slow to appear through the NSS is that the shipyards had to update their facilities after many years without contracts to build new government ships. Then the shipyards had to hire personnel. As well, the government had to find experienced procurement personnel and update processes. Ships are extremely complicated, and many pieces of the puzzle had to be re-built after years of atrophy in the shipbuilding sector.

If you want to learn more about building ships in Canada, then read the Naval Association of Canada Briefing Note #7, “Naval Shipbuilding in Canada: Why Does It Take So Long and Cost So Much?” at


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