Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines form the core of the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) underwater surveillance capabilities. Covert, well-armed, and capable of patrolling vast distances, these submarines provide support to maritime law-enforcement in investigating narcotics trafficking, smuggling, and polluting cases, as well as conducting domestic and international operations.
Four Victoria-class submarines were purchased from the British Government in 1998, and delivered to Canada over a four year period from 2000 to 2004. The first three submarines—Victoria, Windsor and Corner Brook—were commissioned into RCN service shortly after their arrival in Canada. The fourth, Chicoutimi, was delivered to Canada in 2004, but was not commissioned into RCN service until 2015, due to a fire in 2004 and subsequent work required.
The Government of Canada has committed to modernizing and operating the Victoria-class into the mid-to-late 2030s.
The Victoria-class is primarily supported by the Victoria In-Service Support Contract (VISSC), a long-term contract with Canadian industry. VISSC provides Extended Docking Work Periods (EDWP), as well as various support services, such as program management, maintenance, engineering, integrated logistics, and records support. Services under the VISSC are contracted until 2023, and engagement is ongoing with industry and five pre-qualified bidders to replace this contract.
The Victoria-class is also supported by the RCN’s Fleet Maintenance Facilities, who are responsible for the service delivery of all submarine work periods other than EDWPs.
Finally, there are several smaller in-service support contracts and government-to-government arrangements that support certain systems onboard Victoria-class submarines.
This in-service support directly supports requirements to operate into the mid-to-late 2030s, and is at the core of Canada’s submarine capability.
Victoria-class Modernization Project
The Victoria-class Modernization (VCM) project will modernize the Victoria-class fleet to ensure it remains operationally relevant in an evolving operating environment into the mid-to-late 2030s. VCM is currently made up of 17 separate equipment upgrade projects. Thirteen are in the Definition Phase, and seven are in Options Analysis.
Most of the equipment acquisition and in-service support will be managed through separate contracts. Platform integration and installation of VCM equipment will primarily be managed under the VISSC replacement contract.
Currently in Phase 2: Options Analysis
- Not available
2. Options analysis
2. Options analysis
- Started in 2017
- Phase 1 project approval (definition) – obsolescence and maintenance activities: November 2020
- Phase 2 project approval (definition) – flank array modernization, periscopes modernization, and galley improvements: November 2020
- Next Phase project approval: March 2022
- Project approval (implementation) – obsolescence and maintenance initiatives: September 2021
- Project approval (implementation) – capability modernization projects: beginning in November 2022
- Contract awards: beginning in April 2023
- First delivery: 2026
- Initial operational capability: 2028
- Full operational capability: 2033
Learn more about the Defence procurement process.
November 20, 2020
Submissions for Phase 1 (minor obsolescence and maintenance initiatives) and Phase 2 (capability modernization projects (Bundle 1)) are approved.
May 7, 2020
Engagement with the Independent Review Panel for Defence Acquisitions on Phase 1 projects and the overall program conclude.
December 13, 2017
Engagement with the Independent Review Panel for Defence Acquisitions (IRPDA) begins.
June 7, 2017
Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure Engaged, announced Canada would modernize and operate the Victoria-class submarines into the mid-2030s.
Benefiting Canadian Industry
Three Requests for Information have been released to industry to gain insight into costs and availability for two of the larger projects that make up the VCM (periscopes modernization and flank array modernization).
Industry engagement plans for the Flank Array Modernization Project and Periscopes Modernization Project were approved by the Director General Governance Committee on 09 March 2021.
Industrial Technological Benefits will be considered for all acquisitions in excess of $20M.
Canada will continue to engage with stakeholders on advancing industrial and technological benefits for companies in Canada, and promoting innovation, ensuring best value and supporting Canada’s defence priorities.
About the Victoria-class Submarines
- Esquimalt, British Columbia
- Halifax, Nova Scotia
Facts and figures:
- Length: 70.3m
- Displacement (weight): approximately 2,200 tonnes surfaced / 2,450 tonnes dived
- Speed: 12 knots (surfaced), 20 knots (submerged)
- Patrol Endurance: approximately 8 weeks
- Driving Depth: > 200 metres
- Crew size: 48 crew and 5 trainees
The Repair Work Period for the HMCS Victoria was completed in late 2020.
The Transition Docking Work Period for HMCS Windsor was completed in 2021.
Both submarines are now in a normal readiness posture, meaning they are capable of supporting domestic operations on short notice, although their primary focus is on trials and training needed for high readiness.
HMCS Chicoutimi entered a scheduled Transition Docking Work Period in 2019, after spending a total deployment of 197 days away from home in support of Operation Projection. HMCS Chicoutimi is expected to return to sea in 2022.
HMCS Corner Brook was placed in a limited maintenance period in 2011, and formally began an Extended Docking Work Period (EDWP) in 2015. The EDWP includes repair of damage and several equipment upgrades. This schedule has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but work has been able to continue at a reduced pace. HMCS Corner Brook is expected to undock in June 2021 and begin contractor sea-trials in November 2021.
For more information, please visit the Royal Canadian Navy Submarines: Fleet Status Fact Sheet.
As outlined in the Defence Capabilities Blueprint, the Victoria-class Modernization project is valued between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion.
COVID-19 has had an impact on all procurement projects in some form. Challenges may impact the project schedule or cost to varying degrees, as the full impacts continue to be assessed. We continue to monitor the situation closely and 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.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
- Date modified: