In October 2010, the Canadian government issued a Solicitation of Interest and Qualification to 5 short-listed firms, for the opportunity to be part of the Conservative Party government’s 30-year National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. Up to 28 major ships would be built over that period, to equip the Canadian Navy and Coast Guard. One yard would build all combat ships, and the runner up would build the support ships. Up to C$ 33 billion in future work was at stake.
That set up a difficult political situation, in a country with deep regional divides and a high-quality but shaky shipbuilding industry. The USA’s Jones Act makes major sales to the neighboring American market virtually impossible, some foreign shipbuilders are subsidized by up to 40% by their home governments, and Canadian military needs are too small and infrequent to sustain an industry by themselves. In October 2011, the government announced their decision – but a decision is not a contract. Actual contracts have taken an inordinately long time, and the amounts issued have been so far beyond international norms that they raise fundamental questions about where the money is really going.