Construction Begins for Canada’s New Warship Fleet – the River Class Destroyers

News release

June 28, 2024 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Today, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, joined by Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Dirk Lesko, President of Irving Shipbuilding Inc., celebrated the start of construction activities for Canada’s new fleet of Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC).

Minister Blair and Vice-Admiral Topshee also announced that the new fleet of warships will be known as River-class destroyers, and the first three ships will be named His Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Fraser, Saint-Laurent, and Mackenzie.

Ship names are chosen carefully, and they tell the story of the RCN. Not only are these three ships named after Canada’s most important waterways that reach the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans, they are also a tribute to previous Canadian warships with the same names – ships that made heroic wartime contributions and represented cutting-edge technological innovation. The RCN intends to foster a sense of pride in our sailors by connecting these ships to Canada’s maritime heritage.

The CSC project is the largest and most complex shipbuilding initiative in Canada since the Second World War and represents a historic investment into the recapitalization of the RCN’s surface fleet. This project will equip the RCN with new, state-of-the-art warships to bolster Canada’s naval capabilities at home, and abroad, for decades to come. The River-class will be Canada’s major component of maritime combat power, enabling us to continue to monitor and defend our own coastal waters, and contribute significantly to international naval operations alongside our Allies.

Today marked the start of construction on the production test module (PTM), through which the Government of Canada and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. will be able to test and streamline processes, and implement lessons learned into the build process, to enable the start 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.

The CSC project will support sustainable growth in Canada’s marine supply chain. The build phase of CSC will create and/or maintain approximately 10,800 jobs annually throughout the 25-year construction period across the country. The design phase of the project will create and/or maintain approximately 5,000 Canadian jobs annually across the economy. In total, this project will generate at least $40 billion in cumulative Gross Domestic Product.

As indicated in our renewed vision for defence, Our North, Strong and Free, the Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Canada’s defence industry, based on clarity, certainty, and long-term partnership. The CSC project is an excellent example of how the Government of Canada is investing in Canada’s domestic shipbuilding industry, while also equipping the RCN with a fleet of modern and effective ships to support operations well into the future.

The CSC is based on BAE Systems’ Type 26 warship design being built by the United Kingdom and Australia. The ships will have enhanced underwater sensors, state-of-the-art radar, and modern weapons.

The official NATO Ship Designator for the River-class warship will be DDGH – a destroyer (DD), guided (G) missile, helicopter (H) capable. As the RCN’s next generation combat ship, it replaces both the Iroquois-class destroyers and the Halifax-class frigates. As a powerful and multi-functional ship, the River-class warship 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.


“Today, we launch construction on the largest Canadian shipbuilding project since the Second World War, marking an historic milestone for the Royal Canadian Navy. The River-class destroyers will provide the Canadian Armed Forces with the tools that they need to defend our national interests for decades to come – and ensure that Canada can deploy a state-of-the-art, combat-ready fleet of warships to defend our country and support our allies. As we invest in this new fleet, we are also supporting Canada’s shipbuilding industry and thousands of well-paying, skilled jobs. Bravo Zulu to everyone who has helped us reach this important day.”  

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

“The Canadian Surface Combatant project is at the core of our government’s commitment to revitalize Canada’s marine industry through the National Shipbuilding Strategy. The start of construction activities marks a significant milestone in the efforts to re-build Canada’s shipbuilding industry, bringing highly skilled jobs and economic benefits to Canadians during construction and throughout the operational life of the class. These modern ships will be critical to ensuring the ongoing ability of the members of the Royal Canadian Navy to continue their important work protecting Canadians.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Public Services and Procurement

“The start of construction on the Canadian Surface Combatants today marks a pivotal moment for Canada’s maritime defence sector. This significant investment not only strengthens our national security but also supports thousands of jobs and fosters growth in Canada’s marine supply chain, demonstrating our commitment to sustainable economic development and leadership in the shipbuilding industry.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“The selection of an official name for our highly capable destroyers is an exciting moment for the RCN and perfectly timed as today marks the very beginnings of the construction process for the River-class – a clear sign of tangible progress towards our future fleet. The River-class embodies the waterways which are the veins and arteries of our nation and celebrates some of the great ships from the RCN’s history.”

Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee, Commander, Royal Canadian Navy 

Quick facts

  • The CSC will replace the capabilities found in both the retired Iroquois-class destroyers (four) and the Halifax-class frigates (12) with a single, and combat-capable ship to meet multiple threats on both the open ocean and in the highly complex coastal environment.

  • The CSC project is currently budgeted at between $56-60 billion (before taxes), and includes the cost for 15 new, state-of-the-art 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).

  • The CSC is leveraging the latest technology, and flexibility of design to enable a multi-role capability in a single class. This will help to ensure alignment, interoperability and interchangeability with our closest allies and partners in a complex and rapidly evolving global security and threat environment.

  • This PTM will enable the shipyard to develop and test CSC specific build processes, with the aim of benefitting from lessons learned and achieving process improvements to support the efficient start of full rate production on the first CSC ship, under an implementation contract, in 2025. Design work on the more complex sections of the ship will continue in parallel to the start of construction activities.

  • The Government of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy is a long-term, multi-billion-dollar program focused on renewing the Canadian Coast Guard and RCN fleets to ensure that Canada’s marine agencies have the modern ships they need to fulfill their missions, while revitalizing Canada’s marine industry, creating good middle-class jobs and ensuring economic benefits are realized across the country.

  • Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy applies to the CSC project, which requires the companies to make investments and provide business activities in Canada equal to the value of the related contracts.

  • To help bring the CSC into service and support them throughout their lifecycle, National Defence will build a land-based testing facility on a portion of DND-owned land at Hartlen Point in Halifax, N.S. Work to determine the building’s specifications is currently underway and the design phase will run until December 2024. We expect construction to begin this summer on early work packages and full mobilization in Winter 2025 with expected completion in 2027.

  • The River-class name was recommended by the RCN’s Ship Naming Committee. The thirty-two-person committee included military and civilian representation from various ranks and levels, RCN members from all Formations, representatives from all five Defence Diversity Advisory Groups (the Defence Indigenous Advisory Group, the Defence Advisory Group for Persons with Disabilities, the Defence Women’s Advisory Organization, the Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group, and the Defence Team Pride Advisory Organization), historians, and Honourary Captains. 

  • The naming of a class of ship is a time-honoured naval tradition. The RCN, much like other navies around the world, has a history of carrying the names of its ships forward. By re-introducing the River-class, the RCN establishes the future fleet’s connections with the honourable and distinguished service of its past ships and their ships’ companies.

Associated links


Diana Ebadi
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of National Defence

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-904-3333

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