The Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel Project (MCDVP) was a procurement project undertaken by the Department of National Defence beginning in the mid-1980s to find a replacement for the Anticosti-class, and Bay-class minesweepers.
These vessels were to be designed for crewing by a combined crew of approximately 30–40 Canadian Forces naval reservists and regular force members and were to have the capability to quickly change out "modularized mission packages" ranging from minesweeping to route survey to coastal patrol (anti-smuggling/immigration law enforcement operations) to fisheries patrol duties.
The federal government's procurement agency, the Department of Public Works, placed a Request for Proposal in 1988 to Canadian shipbuilders for construction of 12 MCDVs. Six proposals were submitted, 1 from Fenco Engineers, 1 from Halifax Dartmouth Industries (HDIL), 1 from Saint John Shipbuilding, 1 from Allied Shipbuilders, 1 from Canadian Shipbuilding & Engineering, and 1 from MIL-Davie.
The federal government awarded the $750 million contract in 1992 for the design and construction of the twelve new MCDVs to Fenco Engineers, a subsidiary of Lavalin. Fenco was renamed Fenco MacLaren in 1993 and is now known as SNC-Lavalin Defence Programs Inc (SLDPI) of the SNC-Lavalin group of companies.
The same year that Fenco sub-contracted the vessel construction to Halifax Dartmouth Industries, the shipyard was purchased by Irving Shipbuilding and renamed Halifax Shipyard Ltd. This change in ownership saw construction of the MCDVs modularized with sections of the vessels constructed at Irving Shipbuilding facilities in Georgetown, PEI and Shelburne, NS for later assembly in Halifax.
Construction and design issues
SNC-Lavalin was instructed by the Department of Public Works to use "Commercial‐off‐the‐Shelf equipment" which drove costs higher.
One area of reported controversy was the decision by the government to only arm the ships with .50 calibre machine guns. Subsequent design modifications resulted in a single Bofors 40 mm 60 Mk 5C cannon being added to the bow of each ship.
Another area of controversy apparently resulted with the means by which the ships were to be ballasted in order to adjust the trim of the ships. The shipyard had proposed to use concrete however government procurement officers and SNC-Lavalin engineers proposed to use water. Unfortunately water was susceptible to being pumped out, rendering the ships unstable. Lead was proposed but rejected by the government so in the end steel was used for ballast.
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