The growing price tag on Canada’s new fleet of warships has left some experts wondering if there’s a more economical solution to rebuilding the navy.
In June the federal government more than doubled the $26-billion budget to build 15 new Canadian Surface Combatant vessels — the first of which is expected to be delivered in 2026 — to $60 billion.
The U.K. revealed plans this week to buy five budget Type 31e general purpose frigates, on top of the eight type 26 global combat ships currently being constructed by BAE Systems, at a cost equivalent of about $400 million Canadian a piece. This is a fraction of what their Type 26 global combat ships — which are one of the designs in the running for Canada’s new fleet — will cost.
Ken Hansen, a retired navy commander and defence analyst, said Canada ought to follow countries like the U.K. and Denmark in scaling back on what he calls outrageous military-grade engineering standards as well as considering purchasing some vessels with more basic capabilities.
“(These standards are) driving defence procurement to ridiculously high extremes when in fact there is no imminent conflict that would justify that kind of expenditure,” he said.
“Historically . . . what we have always done is a high-low mix, and it makes no sense to be sending a really high capability ship off to low risk tasks,” he said.