Canadian Manufacturing

Feds hire retired British admiral to advise on shipbuilding strategy

Advisor appointment follows criticism from the Shipbuilding Association of Canada last week



HMCS Calgary, one of 12 Halifax-class frigates Canada's National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is designed to replace.

HMCS Calgary, one of 12 Halifax-class frigates Canada’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is designed to replace.

GATINEAU, Que.—As controversy continues to swell around the cost of modernizing Canada’s navy, the federal government has brought on a special advisor to assist with its National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

The government has hired retired Rear Admiral Steve Brunton to provide senior government officials with independent advice about the intricacies of naval procurement, including risk and program management, construction benchmarking and competitiveness, and performance and operational improvements. Brunton, who served 36 years with the U.K.’s Royal Navy, has extensive experience overseeing shipbuilding programs as well as naval acquisitions.

“Steve Brunton’s extensive experience and expert capability make him particularly well-suited for this work, and provide excellent value to Canada,” Judy Foote, minister of Public Services and Procurement, said. “Engaging him will help us to anticipate and address challenges face on, and to continue to make progress on our commitments on the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.”

Laid down in 2010 under the former Conservative government to cover the renewal of Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard vessels, Canada’s shipbuilding strategy has come under fire in recent months for ballooning costs. One example is the replacement of the navy’s frigates. Observers have warned the ships are likely to cost substantially more than the $26 billion that was earmarked for them eight years ago.

Budget watchdogs are not the only ones critical of the strategy, however. Just last week, the Shipbuilding Association of Canada called the strategy “unaffordable and untenable,” and said it hoped the new Liberal government would reopen and alter the strategy. A Liberal cabinet committee is now said to be investigating the program, though the Liberals previously endorsed the Conservative strategy during the campaign.

Brunton has signed on to assist the government for one year, with potential one-year contract extensions up to 10 years.

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