By David Pugliese
Canadian sailors have started to train on the Motor Vessel (MV) Asterix. The vessel, a commercial ship that had been converted to supply duties for the Royal Canadian Navy at the Davie shipyards in Lévis, Quebec, will be ready to support Canadian Forces operations starting in February 2018, according to the RCN. A crew provided by Federal Fleet Services will operate the 26,000-tonne Asterix, but navy personnel will be on board to handle maritime operations such as refueling warships at sea. The ship will provide fuel, ammunition and other supplies to warships at sea. It also has medical facilities and room for two helicopters.
Asterix left Quebec City on December 23, 2017 with a crew of 36 Canadian merchant sailors along with Davie personnel and industry contractors and arrived shortly after in Halifax. During the journey, they completed the testing of the ship’s propulsion and navigation systems as well as military systems, according to Davie officials.
The Royal Navy in the UK has successfully conducted the final First of Class firing trials of the new Sea Ceptor air defence system, completing the qualification firings of this new capability for the Royal Navy, according to the firm MBDA, a European developer and manufacturer of missiles. Following on from the first round of trials this summer, the second set of trials from HMS Argyll saw the system tested against more complex scenarios, including rapidly engaging multiple simultaneous threats.
With HMS Argyll having completed development testing of the Sea Ceptor, the weapon system is now being rolled out to the Royal Navy’s other Type 23 frigates.
Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced that its Canadian subsidiary, DRS Technologies Canada, located in Kanata, Ontario, has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Navy to provide four additional Integrated Voice Communications Systems (IVCS) for their Aegis cruisers and destroyers. The award is part of the U.S. Navy’s larger IVCS contract.
The IVCS, also known as the Shipboard Integrated Communications System, or SHINCOM, is the latest generation shipboard communications switch technology which provides red/black secure tactical communications for navy operators, according to Leonardo. The computer-controlled telephone system connects to a ship’s announcing system, shore telephone lines, radio communications and certain battle sound-powered telephone circuits. It also has programmable features ranging from assigning priorities to calls to recording communications in a manner compliant with marine safety standards.
“We are delighted to again be tapped to provide these advanced systems for secure, reliable communications to enhance the mission of these important U.S. Navy ships,” Martin Munro, Vice President and General Manager, DRS Technologies Canada Ltd., said in a statement. “This brings the total number of systems ordered up to 16 out of a possible 30 under our existing contract. It also underscores the great confidence the United States Navy has in the DRS system to provide vital communications management to its fleet of major surface combatants.”
L3 Technologies said it has established International Boards dedicated to supporting and growing L3’s military and commercial business in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. These organizations will oversee the development of and promote strategic initiatives in their respective regions that advance L3’s competitive position and growth opportunities in the global marketplace, the firm noted.
L3 Technologies Canada Group Inc. will be led by its new Chair, Richard Foster, and will focus on expanding L3’s customer base across a diverse product line, which includes innovative electro-optical/infra-red equipment and maintenance, repair and overhaul and in-service support for the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as integrating communication and platform management systems for a broad range of naval vessels. Additionally, L3 is a key supplier in support of the Canadian Surface Combatant initiative.
On December 8, 2017, Seaspan Shipyards launched the first large vessel to be designed and built under the Canadian government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy. OFSV1 is the first of three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (OFSVs) to be built by Seaspan. OFSV1 is a 63-metre Canadian Coast Guard fisheries research vessel. The ship will be used to gain a better understanding of the health of fish stocks and their ocean environment. Considerable progress is being made on building the remaining two OFSV ships.
Seaspan will also build the Joint Support Ships and Polar-class icebreaker under the shipbuilding strategy. “Seaspan Shipyards is proud to be building ships in Canada for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy,” Brian Carter, President & CEO – Seaspan Shipyards, said in a statement December 8, 2017. “Today’s event is an exciting occasion for not only our company and employees, but Canada’s broader shipbuilding and marine industries; it is a chance to celebrate this shared achievement and acknowledge the long-term partnership that exists between Canada and Seaspan to build non-combat vessels in British Columbia.”
MDA, a business unit of Maxar Technologies (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.), announced that it signed a contract valued at approximately $15 million with the NATO Communications and Information Agency. MDA will build a new system to support NATO’s maritime command and control operations under Project TRITON based on a modern software architecture and technology, according to the firm. This capability will be provided on both fixed and deployable systems. MDA will also provide NATO with a stand-alone command and control visualization capability which is planned to become the standardized map and object visualization for all NATO information technology systems, the company added.
In other news, Maxar Technologies announced the appointment of Mike Greenley to serve as Group President of MDA. Reporting to the CEO of Maxar, Greenley assumes responsibility for taking MDA to the next level of growth and profitability, according to the company. His responsibilities will include all of the MDA lines of business and its 1,900 employees. Primary locations include Surveillance and Intelligence in Richmond, BC, Ottawa, and Halifax, NS; Robotics and Automation in Brampton, Ontario; and Satellite Subsystems, in Montreal, Quebec. The appointment is effective from January 15, 2018.
The U.S. Department of Defense has announced that L-3 Technologies Inc. of Arlington, Texas, is being awarded a $10.5 million (US) contract that provides for a software upgrade and integration of the CF-18 operational flight program. Half of the work will be performed at Arlington, Texas with the rest done at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta and CFB Bagotville, Quebec. The work is expected to be completed in November 2021.