CSC Contender 2018
© 2018 FrontLine Defence (Vol 15, No 5)

Navantia of Spain was successful through the previous procurement process and pre-qualified as a Warship Designer. When the competition rules changed, the company went on to form a team that includes Saab Australia and CEA Technologies. Their proposal is based on the F105 frigate design in-service with the Spanish and Australian navies. Saab, as the systems integrator in this team, will be supported by Lockheed Martin (Moorestown, NJ), General Dynamic Mission Systems – Canada, Leonardo DRS Canada (for the IRST and Integrated Communi­cation System), OSI Maritime, and Rheinmetall Canada. Propulsion suppliers include Wajax (diesel generators) and General Electric (gas turbines). The Canadian engineering companies teamed up for this bid include Vard Marine Canada, Genoa Design International, and Martec.

Navantia designed and built the Álvaro de Bazán-class (F100) frigates for the Spanish Navy. The fifth and final ship in the F100 class, the F105, is being proposed as the design for CSC.

Artist rendering courtesy of NAVANTIA

The design of the Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyer, built in Australia by ASC Shipbuilding was also based on the F105. Australia’s three Hobart-class AWD ships included capability enhancements such as a bow thruster, improved RAS gear, diesel engine and diesel generators, and other equipment updates and design changes to adapt to Australian regulations. The third and final ship of that contract was launched in May 2018. The Australian project had some challenges early on with cost overruns, but has come out the other side as a successful program.

This common aspect of “challenges early on” is another reason the requirement for a “proven design” was included in the CSC request. No one can dispute the fact that, when building a ‘first of class’ ship, there is a significant difference between starting from an existing platform and starting from a new design – and Navantia hopes Canada wants to lessen those pains by choosing a proven hull platform.

Navantia, a Spanish Government-owned organization, has some history with Canadian government contracts. They were involved in the early Joint Support Ship activities and were awarded a contract “to conduct risk reduction studies to ascertain the feasibility of adapting these designs to meet Canadian requirements, to provide the historical cost of building these [JSS] ships, and to deliver a proposal for the development of suitable modifications to their respective designs and the delivery of a data package for use by a Canadian shipyard to build the ships, a technology transfer agreement and the right for Canada to use the design and all data for the construction, use and in-service support of these ships.”

The F105 design was showcased during a 2017 visit to Halifax by Cristobal Colon, the fifth and last ship of Spain’s Álvaro de Bazán-class fleet. Commissioned in 2012, Cristobal Colon incorporates new solutions and technology that will fulfill the most demanding challenges for present and future threats.

The design has been described as a multipurpose, medium-size ocean escort vessel (a common naval term to describe the role of a frigate or destroyer) with excellent performance in all sea states. Capable of operating as the flagship of an allied fleet and in support of expeditionary forces, its air warfare capability incorporates the Lockheed Martin Aegis system linked to SPY-1D (V) radar, giving it the capability to detect and handle up to 90 targets simultaneously up to a distance of 600 km. The ship is powered by Navantia/Caterpillar Bravo 16V propulsion engines and has retractable bow thrusters for ship manœuvring.

Dimensions are similar to other contenders, being 133.2m at the waterline and having a full load displacement of 6041t. Its maximum speed is listed as 28.5 knots and cruising speed is 18 knots with an endurance of over 4500 nautical miles. The relatively large crew size of 234 is a more traditional crew size and may be more in keeping with RCN expectations and requirements.

The Navantia team is confident that some key components in their design will give them the upper hand in the CSC program. The F105-based CSC will incorporate Saab’s 9LV Combat Management Systems, elements of which are in service on over 240 platforms in 16 navies, including Canada (Halifax-class frigates), Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. Saab assisted Lockheed Martin Canada with the Command and Control System upgrade as part of HCM through provision of CMS modules and an advanced 9LV Mk4 FCS for the 127 mm main gun, directors, and the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile system.

Another vital component is the Active Phased Array Radar from CEA Technolo­gies, which is in service in Australia’s ANZAC-class frigate and has been earmarked for all future Royal Australian Navy frigates. This radar is reportedly fully compliant with Canada’s requirements.

Commenting on the particular strengths that offer a special advantage to Canada, company representative Emiliano Matesanz says Navantia has extensive experience with successfully addressing the many complexities associated with the transfer of technology to another shipyard (such as the AWD and LHD in Australia, and the LPD Turkey).

Theirs is the only proposal that offers an existing (operationally proven) platform that has been built in different shipyards (in Spain and in Australia), and the company believes this experience will be extremely helpful to Irving as the shipyard prepares for the first CSC build.
Based on the experience of the ship being built in different industrial scenarios, they feel best prepared to understand the costs, schedules and risks associated with construction in a foreign shipyard.

As for the Canadian goal of supporting a continuous sovereign shipbuilding capability, Navantia says it has engaged Canadian industry “to incorporate it to our solution in order to bring to Canada the maximum value, not only in economic terms but also in know-how that will enable Canada to sustain the shipbuilding capability.” Matesanz also highlights that several Canadian engineering companies have been engaged to support the development of the CSC design in Canada. “The design will be Canadian.”

The Navantia value proposition to Canada is to provide “the lowest risk solution with a proven, ‘producible’ ship design, for Canada.” The Navantia Team is committed to creating new high-value jobs in Canada; investing in Canadian-based innovation that focuses on Shipyard 4.0 technologies to support the creation of a sustainable national shipbuilding capability; and developing new export opportunities for the Canadian defence industry by partnering with Canadian suppliers and producers.

According to Israel Lozano, Navantia’s Naval Commercial Director, “the proposal of Navantia is devoted to support Canadian sovereign shipbuilding capacity and has prepared the lowest risk solution offering the most capable ship and a wide net of collaboration and partnerships.”
Hooking up with Saab is considered a smart move on Navantia’s part. In 2015, FrontLine assessed Saab as the dark horse in the Combat Systems Integrator race, and this continues to be the case. Recent contract awards (AJISS to Thales) have shown that you don’t have to be the front-runner to win the race.

Saab also has recent Canadian experience through their involvement in the HCM project.

The question is, will this bid nudge out the others?