Canadian Manufacturing

U.K. defence firm wants to partner on warships

British defence company BAE Systems still wants to work with Canada on building new warships, even though the Harper government has slammed the door shut on collaboration with its NATO ally.



OTTAWA—British defence company BAE Systems still wants to work with Canada on building new warships, even though the Harper government has slammed the door shut on collaboration with its NATO ally.

A senior executive with BAE told The Canadian Press it may be early days, but his firm and the British government would be willing to share warship designs with Canada.

The overture comes in the face of the Conservative government’s repeated declarations that its one-year-old National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy will be a made-in-Canada enterprise.

The Conservative government’s 20-year, $35-billion shipbuilding strategy will see two yet-to-be-named shipyards selected as prime contractors.

Alan Garwood, BAE’s group business development director, said it is understandable that Canada wants to develop its own domestic shipbuilding industry.

But he made clear that did not rule out collaboration between his firm and Canada in the future.

“If Canada is in the market for some of the ships—like frigates—in the future, then there are designs both in our company and with the British government that would be eminently suitable.”

He said his government would be happy to talk to the two companies that eventually win the Canadian shipyard competition.

At the same CANSEC show, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose reiterated that Canada would build its own new fleet of navy warships, and that the new ships would be a major job creator.

“The NSPS is the largest single military procurement in Canadian history,” said Ambrose.

“First and most importantly, we decided that new naval vessels would be built in Canada by Canadians. We all know that Canada’s marine industry is a key economic driver.”

Canada’s shipyards would build navy and coast guard vessels. Its major project will be replacing its 12 Halifax-class patrol frigates, launched in the 1990s, that are expected to reach the end of their life around 2025.

Planning has been underway for a replacement vessel, tentatively dubbed the Single Class Surface Combat ship, which would see different kinds of warships built on top of the same basic hull design.

Photo: BAE Systems

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