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Procuring Naval Ships in Canada

It is usually a long process to procure new warships for the Royal Canadian Navy. Warships are both complex and expensive, so there are legitimate concerns about efficient use of taxpayer money. It should be noted that lengthy procurement processes do not just apply to warships - the Canadian Air Force, for example, has been working to replace the F-18 fighter jets for a number of years - and this does not just occur in Canada.

The five stages of a Canadian defence procurement process are: identification; options analysis; definition; implementation; and close-out. The process starts with the navy convincing the government that it needs a certain capability. Having succeeded at that, then the navy has to consider the options that are available and define the requirements. (One of the considerations is whether the warship should be built in Canada - there are debates about whether to build in Canada or to purchase ships from other states. The process outlined here refers to building in Canada.) The plan has to be reviewed by an interdepartmental governance team, including for example Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada, the Treasury Board and Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the department responsible for conducting the actual procurement activity and negotiating contracts. And then there is the process of selecting a shipyard and signing contracts, and a whole array of other considerations. Only after that can the process of building begin.

If you want to know more about the procurement process for warships, read the Naval Association of Canada Briefing Note, “Naval Procurement,” at https://www.navalassoc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/BN8-naval-procurement.pdf

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