Arctic and offshore patrol ships

Project summary

Canada’s defence policy – Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) – committed to the acquisition of six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS). Designated the Harry DeWolf - class in honour of Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf, a Canadian wartime naval hero, the vessels are being delivered through the AOPS project, under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

The AOPS are able to perform a wide variety of tasks, such as:

  • Provide increased presence and conduct surveillance operations throughout Canada’s waters, including in the Arctic;
  • Support Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) sovereignty operations;
  • Participate in a wide variety of international operations, such as anti-smuggling, anti-piracy or international security and stability;
  • Contribute to humanitarian assistance, emergency response and disaster relief domestically or internationally;
  • Conduct Search and Rescue (SAR) and facilitate communications among other ships;
  • Support CAF core missions including capacity building in support of other nations; and
  • Support other government departments in their ability to enforce their respective mandates.

Since 2021, the AOPS operate in the Arctic between June and October, providing a greater, and longer, CAF presence in the north. They will be capable of operating in first-year ice of 120-centimetre thickness. This will allow the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to have unescorted access to areas of the Arctic that were previously inaccessible to RCN ships.

The Harry DeWolf - class ships have the ability to sustain operations up to four month when resupplied, either from shore or by sea.

The AOPS project is also acquiring integrated logistics support products and jetty infrastructures in Halifax and Esquimalt. In addition to the six ships to being built and delivered to the RCN, two AOPS will be delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard.

On July 31, 2020, the RCN welcomed its first new AOPS, HMCS Harry DeWolf. HMCS Harry DeWolf was subsequently commissioned into service in June 2021, and completed its first operational tour – the circumnavigation of North America – from August to December 2021, which included a transit through the Northwest Passage.

The RCN formally accepted delivery of its second ship, HMCS Margaret Brooke, on July 15, 2021. The ship completed on its first operational deployment on Operation NANOOK from August 2022 to December 2022.

The third AOPS, HMCS Max Bernays, delivered to the RCN on September 2, 2022.

Ships four, five and six are currently in various stages of production.

Project phases

Currently in Phase 4: Implementation

1. Identification

1. Identification

  • Completed through the National Shipbuilding Strategy
2. Options analysis

2. Options analysis

  • Completed through the National Shipbuilding Strategy
3. Definition

3. Definition

  • Project approval: December 13, 2012
  • Contract award: March 7, 2013
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Project approval: December 11, 2014
  • Contract award: December 23, 2014
  • Cut steel for ship 1 : September 1, 2015
  • Cut steel for ship 2: August 25, 2016
  • Cut steel for ship 3: December 19, 2017
  • Revised project approval for 6 ships: November 2, 2018
  • Revised contract award for 6 ships: December 21, 2018
  • Cut steel for ship 4: May 3, 2019
  • Ship 1 delivery: July 31, 2020
  • Ship 2 delivery: July 15, 2021
  • Ship 3 delivery: September 2, 2022
  • Ship 4 delivery: 2023
  • Cut Steel for Ship 5: May, 2021
  • Ship 5 delivery: 2024
  • Cut Steel for Ship 6: August 15, 2022
  • Ship 6 delivery: 2025
  • Ship 7 delivery: 2026
  • Ship 8 delivery: 2027
5. Close-out

5. Close-out

  • 2026

*Key milestones and timelines are reflective of the current schedule, but are tentative and subject to change as timelines are reviewed.

Learn more about the Defence procurement process.

Additional information

Project updates

Project updates

September 2022
HMCS Max Bernays was delivered to the RCN on September 2, 2022.

August 2022
Construction of the sixth AOPS, the future HMCS Robert Hampton Gray, began and was marked with a steel cutting ceremony on August 18.

July 2022
The three mega-blocks for the fourth AOPS, the future HMCS William Hall, have now been moved from inside Irving Shipbuilding Inc.’s Halifax Shipyard Module Hall facility to the exterior land level construction area where they will be joined together to form the overall vessel for further outfitting and preparations for launch in 2023.

October 2021
The third AOPS, the future HMCS Max Bernays, was launched in October 2021.

July 2021
HMCS Margaret Brooke was delivered on July 15, 2021.

May 2021
Sea trials for the second ship, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, were completed in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Construction of the fifth ship, the future HMCS Frédérick Rolette, began.

Construction of the fifth ship, the future HMCS Frédérick Rolette, began.

April 2021
HMCS Harry DeWolf completed its third post-delivery work period in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Following completion of this work period, the ship conducted warm weather trials by the Caribbean Islands.

February 2021
HMCS Harry DeWolf completed its second post-delivery work period in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Following the completion of this work period, the ship successfully conducted cold weather and ice trials on the South-East coast of Baffin Island, Nunavut.

January 2021
The first mega-block of the future HMCS Max Bernays (AOPS 3) was moved from inside the Halifax Shipyard’s Assembly and Ultra Hall facility to the exterior land-level construction point.

October 2020
The crew of HMCS Harry DeWolf began their operational and readiness activities, and the ship sailed at sea for the first time under RCN command.

August 2020
The name of the sixth AOPS, the future HMCS Robert Hampton Gray, was announced.

July 2020
Following the completion of final sea trials in mid-July, the first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, HMCS Harry DeWolf, was delivered to the Government of Canada on July 31, 2020. The ship remained at the CFB Halifax Dockyard for several weeks while it completed its first post-delivery work period, which included final preparations and outfitting. During this time, the crew also began their operational readiness activities and training before the ship officially enters into RCN service in summer 2021.

February 2020
The first round of builder sea trials for HMCS Harry DeWolf were successfully completed in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

November 2019
The second Arctic and Offshore Patrol ship, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, was successfully launched in Halifax. Builder trials for the first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf were held in late-November.

July 2019
Construction of the new NJ Jetty at the CFB Halifax Dockyard was completed.

May 2019
Construction of the fourth ship, the future HMCS William Hall, began.

The construction of a seventh and eighth ship for the Canadian Coast Guard was announced which will further mitigate the remaining production gap.

December 2018
A contract amendment was signed for the acquisition of a sixth ship and extension of the schedule.

November 2018
The Government of Canada confirmed that the RCN will receive a sixth AOPS and announced that the production schedule will be extended by 18 months, thereby mitigating the production gap between the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship and Canadian Surface Combatant construction.

October 2018
The first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship was officially named Harry DeWolf during the traditional naming ceremony.

September 2018
The future HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPS 1) was launched to water in September 2018.

The first two of three mega-blocks of the future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPS 2) were moved from inside the Halifax Shipyard’s Assembly and Ultra Hall facility to the exterior land-level construction point.

December 2017
Construction of the third ship, the future HMCS Max Bernays (AOPS 3), began.

The future HMCS Harry DeWolf’s third and final mega-block moved from inside the Halifax Shipyard’s Assembly and Ultra Hall facility to the exterior land level construction point, where it was joined to the first two mega-blocks to form the complete ship.

July 2017
The first two of three mega-blocks of the future HMCS Harry DeWolf were moved from inside the Halifax Shipyard’s Assembly and Ultra Hall facility to the exterior land-level construction point.

August 2016
Construction of the second vessel, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, began.

September 2015
Construction of the first vessel, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf, began. The future fleet has been designated the Harry DeWolf-class. The other vessels in the class have also been named:

  • HMCS Margaret Brooke
  • HMCS Max Bernays
  • HMCS William Hall
  • HMCS Frédérick Rolette

The AOPS project also includes jetty infrastructure in Esquimalt, B.C., and Halifax, N.S., and a berthing and fueling facility in Nanisivik, Nunavut.

January 2015
The Government of Canada announced a $2.6 billion contract (taxes included) to Irving Shipbuilding Inc. to build the Harry DeWolf-class patrol ships, marking the start of the construction phase under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Industry

Commitment to Canadian Industry

The National Shipbuilding Strategy’s selection of the two shipyards to rebuild the fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard were applied in a comprehensive and innovative way by following principles of extensive industry consultations, along with the establishment of a strong governance structure and the involvement of independent third parties.

Irving Shipbuilding Inc., as the selected shipyard for the combat package of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, is responsible for engagements with industry. Through these engagements, the shipyard has established contracts for the sourcing of services, materials, equipment’s and systems for use in the design and construction of the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships.

The Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRB) policy is being applied to the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship Definition and Implementation contracts. As of August 2020, the total IRB obligation is $3.1 billion, 2.6 billion has been completed to-date, with work ongoing.

Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has $14.1 million in National Shipbuilding Strategy Value Proposition obligations, in the areas of human resources, technology and industrial development, 100% of which have been identified to date.

Contractors

Some of the links below lead to websites that are not part of the Government of Canada and may be available in English only.

The amended build contract with Irving Shipbuilding Inc. will deliver six ships. The contract will be further amended for the procurement of two ships for the Canadian Coast Guard.

Technical Information

Harry DeWolf-class patrol ship specifications

  • Length: 103 metres
  • Beam: 19 metres
  • Crew: up to 65
  • Estimated life expectancy: 25 years of service per vessel
Project costs

Project costs

  • The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship project acquisition budget is $4.3 billion (excluding taxes). This includes ship design, project management, materials and labour needed to build all the ships, jetty and fueling infrastructure, initial spare parts, technical data, training of crew, contingency, amongst other items.
  • Final figures do not include Canadian Coast Guard ships.
  • In 2017, one in-service support contract for 35 years was awarded to Thales for both the Joint Support Ships and Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships and is valued at $5.2 billion.
Issues/Risks

Issues/Risks

  • COVID-19 has had an impact on all procurement projects in some form. Challenges may impact the project schedule or cost to varying degrees. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will update the project page should any information change. In collaboration with our industry partners, we are continuing to work on mitigation measures where possible, while keeping our respective workforces safe.
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