A federal government announcement has set the stage for the next component of the long promised enhancement of the Royal Canadian Navy.
The $36-million contract to military contractor, Ratheon Canada, is for purchase, installation, maintenance and training required for 58 naval remote weapons stations, designed for installation on existing navy vessels.
The weapons stations will enable a variety of weapons systems, such as the heavy 50 caliber machine guns currently deployed to navy ships, to be operated safely from inside the ship, negating the need for gun crews to be exposed to enemy fire.
Judy Foote, minister of public services, said these systems are only a part of the government’s commitment to ensure the navy is able to operate as a blue water fleet well into the future; protecting and ensuring the sovereignty of coastal waters and meeting international commitments abroad.
“We are delivering on our promise to equip the navy and coast guard with modern weaponry that will protect it against naval and aerial threats in any situation,” said Foote at CFB Esquimalt on Tuesday.
The enhancement of the navy was first announced in 2010 by the Harper government, but the $42-billion National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy, which included the replacement of much of the navy’s aging fleet, soon came under fire as being severely underfunded.
In 2015, Vice Admiral Mark Norman admitted there was “a lot of guessing and speculation going on” and added, “to be quite blunt, we got a lot of it wrong.”
During the federal election campaign, the Liberal party campaigned on a promise to fund the commitments made as part of the procurement plan and promised that the process would be transparent and fair.
In February, Ratheon Canada questioned the fairness of the military procurement process but had their complaints dismissed by a federal trade tribunal. The complaint involved their losing bid to provide new combat equipment to the army.
“Procurement is an open and transparent process and a team effort,” said Foote. She explained the procurement of the weapons systems was a two-step process allowing bidders to modify and clarify portions of their bids rather than being disqualified, as might have been the case in the past.
Foote added the process was also designed to not only enhance the capabilities of the navy, but also to help drive the economy of the nation.
“Bids had to include a demonstration of how they (the military contractors bidding on the contracts) would generate economic growth and job creation,” said Foote.