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Canada commences construction on next-generation River-class destroyers.

According to information published by the Canadian Department of National Defence on June 28, 2024, construction commences for the new fleet of Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC), known as the River-class destroyers.
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Artist rendenring of the future Canadian Surface Combatant or River-class destroyer. (Picture source: Canadian National Defence)

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), and Dirk Lesko, President of Irving Shipbuilding Inc., celebrated the start of these construction activities.

The CSC project is Canada's largest and most complex shipbuilding endeavor since World War II, representing a historic investment in the RCN’s surface fleet. This initiative is set to provide Canada with advanced warships that will enhance its naval capabilities domestically and internationally for decades.

The River-class destroyers will be central to Canada's maritime defense, capable of monitoring and defending coastal waters and contributing significantly to international naval operations.

The initial phase of construction involves the production test module (PTM), which will allow the government and Irving Shipbuilding to streamline processes and implement improvements before full-rate production begins in 2025. The first River-class destroyer, HMCS Fraser, is expected to be delivered in the early 2030s, with the entire fleet completed by 2050.

The River-class destroyers are based on BAE Systems’ Type 26 warship design, featuring enhanced underwater sensors, state-of-the-art radar, and modern weaponry. These ships will replace the retired Iroquois-class destroyers and Halifax-class frigates, offering a multi-functional capability to meet various threats both in open ocean and complex coastal environments.

Budgeted at between $56-60 billion, the CSC project includes costs for 15 new warships and all necessary components for their design, construction, and commissioning.

In support of the CSC, National Defence will construct a land-based testing facility at Hartlen Point in Halifax, N.S., expected to be completed by 2027. This facility will play a crucial role in bringing the CSC into service and supporting them throughout their lifecycle.

The River-class name was recommended by the RCN’s Ship Naming Committee, comprising military and civilian representatives, historians, and advisory groups. This naming tradition aims to honor the legacy of past ships and their contributions to Canada’s naval history.

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