Maintenance and modernization

The Government of Canada made the modernization of the Victoria-class submarines a cornerstone of the Royal Canadian Navy’s contribution to Canada’s Defence Policy: Strong, Secure, Engaged. We have been actively conducting regular and cyclical maintenance on our current fleet while planning this modernization program (see below for information), which will extend the operational relevance of the Victoria class through to the mid-2030s.

Building on lessons learned from the successful Halifax-class modernization, this program will provide modernized and improved capabilities to the Victoria class by:

  • improving the habitability and deployment conditions onboard in support of RCN submariners;
  • positioning the class to contribute meaningfully to CAF Joint Operations ashore; and
  • ensuring the survivability of the class against an evolving threat in an increasingly complex and changing battlespace.

The Victoria-class Modernization Program is comprised of numerous discrete projects delivering required improvements and updates. To best manage the cost, schedule, and integration risks, a programmatic approach is required for this undertaking.

The maintenance program for Canada's submarines

Canadian submarines generally operate in an operational cycle in which each vessel is available to the fleet for six years – referred to as the “operational period” – followed by two years in deep maintenance during an Extended Docking Work Period (EDWP).

Submarines are among the world’s most highly complex machines and they operate in an unforgiving environment. This necessitates a highly rigorous material certification process to assure the safety of the crew and the submarine. This material certification is achieved through a time-based maintenance cycle which forms an essential element of the operational cycle of any class of submarine. In 2008, Canada’s Treasury Board approved the expenditure of up to a maximum of $1.5 billion over a period of up to 15 years for the in-service support for the Victoria-class submarines. The Victoria In-Service Support Contract (VISSC) was awarded competitively to the Canadian Submarine Management Group, now renamed Babcock Canada Inc.

All Victoria-class Extended Docking Work Periods performed during the term of this contract, commencing with HMCS Chicoutimi, are funded and managed through the VISSC. In June 2013, the Government of Canada exercised the first five-year extension option of this maintenance support contract, worth $531 million. This contract highlights a key strategic knowledge sharing initiative and partnership between the RCN and Canadian industry.

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