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Naval frigates to receive $3.1B refit

Shipyards in Halifax, Victoria invited to submit bids to retrofit the 12 frigates

Last Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2007 | 5:08 PM AT

Ottawa will spend $3.1 billion to refit the navy's entire fleet of Halifax-class frigates, making them "giant floating command posts" to protect Canada at home and around the world, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday.

"New, updated equipment will make these ships stronger, safer and better able to do all that we ask them to do," said Harper at the Halifax Dockyard.

Prime Minister Stephen greets the crew of HMCS Halifax on Thursday, after announcing the frigate refit plan.Prime Minister Stephen greets the crew of HMCS Halifax on Thursday, after announcing the frigate refit plan.
(Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

"They are the backbone of the Canadian navy, so by upgrading them we are making the entire navy stronger."

Part of the refit will include enhanced command and control centres on the 12 frigates, allowing them to lead operations instead of simply participating in them, said Harper.

"Now more than ever, our Halifax frigates will be giant floating command posts, standing up for Canada at home and abroad," he said.

The upgrades will also accommodate the new CH-148 Cyclone Maritime helicopters Ottawa has ordered to replace the aging fleet of Sea Kings, said Harper.

Made in Canada

Harper said the entire refit will be done by Canadian companies in Canada.

"It's excellent news for Canadian naval shipyards, their employees and their suppliers, and it is excellent news for Canada," said Harper.

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, who appeared at the announcement with Harper along with Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, said the refit process would start in 2010 and likely take seven years.

"The process will make the 12 frigates relevant for decades to come," said O'Connor.

Shipyards in Halifax and Victoria have been invited to submit bids to retrofit the frigates, he said.

Harper praised the frigate fleet as underappreciated "workhorses" performing missions in the four corners of the world.

"The frigates patrol Canada's three coastlines to protect them from drug traffickers, terrorism, illegal fishing and polluters," said Harper.

Restore international influence

They're also on the front line of the fight against international terrorism, deliver humanitarian aid around the world and protect Canada's Arctic territories, he said.

"Our government is determined to restore our status and influence in the world stage. That means strengthening our ability to stand up for our interests, and having the tools we need to assert and defend those interests."

First commissioned during the Cold War, the Halifax-class frigates were launched between 1988 and 1995.

The announcement came a day after six Canadian soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Harper's visit in the province was to be brief — he's scheduled to appear in Saskatchewan later in the afternoon.

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