Canada Starts Test Construction for New Destroyer Class to Modernize Navy

Canadian destroyer
Rendering of Canada new River-class destroyers due to enter service in the 2030s and 2040s (Irving)

Published Jun 28, 2024 7:19 PM by The Maritime Executive


Work began today at the Irving Shipbuilding yard in Halifax, Canada of the first test module for a new class of guided-missile destroyer that is planned to modernize the Canadian Navy and equip it to 2050 and beyond. Canada has ordered 15 River-class destroyers as part of its National Shipbuilding Strategy.

“Today, we launch construction on the largest Canadian shipbuilding project since the Second World War, marking a historic milestone for the Royal Canadian Navy,” said Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence. “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.”

The class is based on BAE Systems’ Type 26 warship design which is also being built in the United Kingdom and Australia. Canada announced the selection of the design in 2018. The ships will have enhanced underwater sensors, as well as state-of-the-art radar, and modern weapons. The ships are designed for a departure displacement of 8,000 tonnes and a complement of 210. They will be 495 feet (151 meters) with a range of 7,000 nautical miles and a top speed of 27 knots.

The government is currently budgeting between C$56 and $60 billion (US$41 to $44 billion) for the 15 vessels for both design and construction. The vessels are designed to replace four Iroquois-class destroyers now decommissioned and 12 Halifax-class frigates.


At the kickoff ceremony Irving also cut steel for the eight and final patrol ship (Irving)


According to Irving Shipbuilding, the start of the construction of the Production Test Module is an important step toward full-rate production. The government expects to test and streamline processes during this phase and implement lessons learned to enhance full production. The full-rate production is due to start in 2025. Like other major naval projects in the U.S. and elsewhere, Canada reached this point while final designs for the vessel are still being completed.

The first vessel will be named HMCS Fraser and is expected in the early 2030s. Government officials announced today that it will be known as the River-class with the vessels named for Canada’s most important waterways and in tribute to previous Canadian warships of the same name. The next two vessels will be named Saint-Laurent and Mackenzie.

The vessel will be helicopter-capable and the design is fast and maneuverable. They highlight anti-aircraft and anti-submarine capabilities as well as a long-endurance capability. They said the vessels could be used as escort vessels and to provide critical maritime safety.

Analysts highlight that the class is overdue and that the Canadian Navy needs the enhanced capabilities of the class. The Iroquois-class was commissioned in 1971 and 1972 with the last of the vessels decommissioned in 2017. The Halifax-class frigates were commissioned between 1992 and 1996 and remain in active service.

To help bring the new River-class into service and support them throughout their lifecycle, National Defence reports it will build a land-based testing facility 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. It expects construction to begin this summer on early work packages and full mobilization in Winter 2025 with expected completion in 2027.