As part of its spate of military modernization announcements issued just before Canada Day (July 1) 2006, the Canadian government issued an RFP that began the process of defining and building 3 “Joint Support Ships.” The aim was to deliver 3 multi-role vessels with substantially more capability than the current Protecteur Class oiler and resupply ships. In addition to being able to provide at-sea support (re-fueling and re-supply) to deployed naval task groups, the new JSS ships were envisioned as ships that would also be capable of sealift operations, as well as amphibious support to forces deployed ashore.
This was expected to be a C$ 2.9 billion (USD $2.58 billion) project. This article describes the process, the industry teams participating, and some of the issues swirling around Canada’s very ambitious specifications. Specifications that ultimately sank the whole project, twice, in a manner that was predictable from the outset. Leaving Canada’s navy with a serious problem, as its existing ships were forced into retirement. Will another go-round in 2012-13 help any? And what will Canada do in the meantime?