Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard October/November 2023

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 16 of 31 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2023 17 INTERVIEW A NAVY tractual arrangements to improve support to power generation and distribution on- board. Additionally, there has been sig- nificant effort to address obsolescence in lighting systems, and there is effort under- way to improve our support to ancillary systems onboard. We've also noted a few recent issues where failures have occurred in systems that were intended to serve for the life of the ship without replacement. This is to be expected given where we are in the life of the class, and anywhere we've had an issue the response from industry and from our own Fleet Maintenance Fa- cilities has been truly outstanding. The biggest challenge by far is with hull structure. The Halifax-class in many re- spects is a jet-powered high-performance sports car. Its power-to-weight ratio is optimized for speed and agility, meaning that its structure is as light as we could make it while accounting for stresses at sea and survivability against weapon effects. This optimization, however, means that the ship was not optimized for a service life longer than intended at design, and consequently we are seeing a trend toward significantly more age-related structural steel replacement in each DWP. Unfortu- Q Halifax-class modernization addressed the combat systems of the class, do you see these modifications lasting to the end of service life, or do you see further upgrades to the combat systems to maintain operational relevance? If so, what areas do you envision being further modified and how can industry help? The class will continue to receive obsoles- cence and operational upgrades; however, it is worth noting that at this stage in the life of the class, remaining design mar- gins for size, weight, and power (SWAP) of new equipment installations are very limited. Consequently, we should expect that SWAP considerations will be every bit as important as cost and performance in discerning what specific initiatives may or may not be pursued, and in de- termining which options are pursued to respond to emerging needs. Overall, I think it would be fair to anticipate a focus on lower complexity, lower cost, higher return on investment upgrades that can maintain the operational relevancy of the class without taking it outside its design margins going forward. nately, getting access to the hull structure to replace it is not simple, as it requires the removal of interference items to gain access, followed by the actual structural replacement, post-installation quality as- surance and coating application to ensure replacement steel will last, re-installation of interference items, and post-installa- tion testing. So, it isn't just the cost of the steel in play, but also all the tear- down and build-up work required on ei- ther end of the activity. The other trend, particularly after the supply chain disruption and inflation coming out of the COVID pandemic, is toward significantly higher in-service support costs. These trends are lead- ing to additional resource and schedule pressures that challenge the teams and complicate RCN planning. To the extent that we are able to maintain resources and capacity to address the challenges, I am confident in our ability to stay on track toward the strategic objective for the Halifax-class, which is to continue to deliver a key CAF operational capability while flexibly positioning for the eventual transition into service of the Canadian Surface Combatant. HMCS Windsor. Photo: DND Canadian Surface Combatant Image: Lockheed Martin / BAE

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