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HMCS IROQUOIS Class Destroyer

By 2015 the impending retirement of the navy's Iroquois-class destroyers would leave an air defense gap for Canadian task forces at sea. Without air defence destroyers, Canadian frigates would have to seek protection from long-range threats under the umbrella of U.S. combat vessels.

IROQUOIS Class Destroyer area air defence destroyers have advanced communications capability and extra accommodations making them an ideal command and control platform. They are also confusingly known as the Tribal Class, which poses an ambiguity with the Tribal class destroyers of World War II era. Built in the early 1970s, in the early 1990s it was extensively converted and refitted with sophisticated anti-air weapons systems, an improved propulsion plant, and advanced weapons and communications systems. Like Canada's newer Halifax-class Canadian Patrol Frigate, IROQUOIS Class Destroyers are equipped with one of the world's most advanced integrated combat control systems. In peacetime, they can employ its high-tech systems for a variety of important missions, from search and rescue to fisheries and sovereignty patrols.

IROQUOIS Class Destroyer area air defence destroyers can embark two twin engine CH 124 Sea King gas turbine medium range helicopters. These aircraft have been extensively modified to carry out their role in anti-submarine warfare, operating as an integral extension of the ship's weaponry. The Sea King is also used to identify vessels and build awareness of the maritime environment. The Sea King helicopter's crew consists of two pilots, a tactical coordinator (TACCO) and an airborne electronic systems operator (AESOP). The CH 124A Sea King is equipped with variable depth sonar, radar for surface search and is instrumented for all weather missions. The CH 124B aircraft is fitted with sonobouy processing equipment and is able to passively detect and track submarines. Both aircraft are capable of carrying two MK 46 anti-submarine torpedoes. Air operations in rough seas are possible with the aid of the Canadian designed "Beartrap" or Helicopter Hauldown Rapid Securing Device.

In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet or battle group and defend them against smaller, short-range but powerful attackers (originally torpedo boats, later submarines and aircraft). Before the First World War, destroyers were light vessels without the endurance for unattended ocean operations; typically a number of destroyers and a single destroyer tender operated together. During and after the Second World War, larger and more powerful destroyers capable of independent operation were built, particularly as cruisers ceased to be used in the 1950s and 60s. Currently, destroyers are the heaviest surface combatant ships in general use. Modern destroyers are equivalent in tonnage but drastically superior in firepower to cruisers of the Second World War era. The Canadian Navy has continously operated destroyers from 18 different classes since 1920 and is using the improved Iroquois class.

A program intended to upgrade and modernize the surface capability of Canada's navy was presented in a discussion paper to Cabinet in 1977. The paper identified, among other things, a need to conduct a major modernization of the four Tribal Class destroyers. This initiative is referred to as the Tribal Class Update and Modernization Project, or TRUMP. It was proposed that the enhanced Tribal Class capabilities should complement those of the Canadian Patrol Frigate, and that these two classes of ships would form the nucleus of Canada's surface naval force in the 1990s. The project involves a mid-life refit and the replacement of old equipment with modern capabilities such as air defence missiles and a new command and control system.

9.93 In July 1983 Cabinet gave approval in principle for TRUMP at an estimated expenditure of $650 million (1983 dollars) and directed that the shipyard portion of the project would be given to a specific shipyard that was not involved in the construction of the Canadian Patrol Frigate. In May 1986 Cabinet announced that this shipyard would be given the shipyard portion of the project for the first two ships, with the last two put to open competition. Discussions with the Project Management Office staff indicated that, if the last two ships were awarded to another shipyard, there could be a cost increase based on the possible duplication of support requirements and the loss of learning curve benefits.

In January 1984, Treasury Board authorized spending up to $17.41 million for the TRUMP Definition Phase. Three bids were received for the contract to undertake the Definition Phase - one of $7.9 million, one of $10.7 million and one of $12.9 million. All three were considered to be in compliance with technical requirements. An evaluation of these proposals was conducted in April 1984, and the evaluation team ranked the proposals in the order shown above. An agreement was signed with the selected (lowest) bidder in June 1984 to begin the Project Definition work right away. Between June 1984 and April 1986, Treasury Board approved three amendments to the contract, the last of which raised the total contract price to $19 million. Part of the rationale for the third amendment was the need to help the contractor retain engineering personnel and technical staff capabilities, presumably to permit carrying out the implementation phase of the project, despite the fact that no agreement had yet been made that that contractor would, in fact, be chosen.

Following completion of the project definition phase, DND and DSS recommended, and in April 1986 Treasury Board approved, a contract with the same contractor for the implementation phase of TRUMP at a total estimated cost of $1.3 billion budget-year dollars. This contract, signed on 9 May 1986, was awarded without a request for bids from other potential bidders.

Modernized at MIL Davie at Lauzon, Quebec, these ships were more capable warships, capable of anti-submarine warfare in addition to providing group air defence and capable of Task Group Command and Control. As a result of the TRUMP conversion, they received supportive area air defence capability through the installation of the vertically launched medium range surface-to-air standard missile system. Complementing this are the Oto Melara 76mm super rapid gun mount for surface and air self defence and the Phalanx 20mm Close-in Weapons System (CWIS) for anti-missile defence.

Having originally been built at Davie, when the Royal Canadian Navy needed to modernize the Tribal Class Destroyers 20 years later, returning to the original builder of Canada’s primary surface combatants was a clear choice. Davie modernized the Royal Canadian Navy’s Tribal Class Destroyers over a three year program to enhance their anti-submarine warfare capabilities in addition to providing group air defence and capability for Task Group Command and Control. As a result of the Tribal Class Upgrade and Modernization program, the fleet received its supportive area air defence capability through the installation of the vertically launched medium range surface-to-air standard missile system.

Paid off on 31 March 2005, the Iroquois class destroyer HMCS Huron (2nd of the name) was sunk during exercise Trident Fury on 14 May 2007 at an offshore weapons range, 150 km west of Vancouver Island by one of its own guns, which had been mounted on her sister ship HMCS Algonquin (2nd of the name). An one-hour television program on the sinking was produced for television.

HMCS Athabaskan was the third ship of the Tribal class helicopter destroyer to complete the Tribal Update and Modernization Program (TRUMP) conversion. Among the most modern warships afloat, she is capable of many roles in support of Canada's sovereignty and collective defence agreements. Incorporated in HMCS Athabaskan are a gas turbine propulsion plant, computerized Command and Control System, new weapons and improved communication and detection equipment.

First of the Iroquois Class destroyers, she commissioned on July 29, 1972, in Sorel, Quebec. Several times in her first 20 years of service, Iroquois served as the flagship to the Canadian commodore assigned as the Commander, Standing Naval Force Atlantic. In 1983, while on fishery patrol, she answered a SOS from the Panamanian-registered Ho Ming 5, in danger of capsizing owing to shifting cargo. In gale-force winds, all crew members of the cargo ship were rescued. Eighteen of her ship’s company were decorated for their bravery.

In 1993-1994, she served with the blockading force of ex-Yugoslavia. In 1996, in Grenada, she played host to the Canadian Prime Minister and a number of Caribbean Heads of States. In October 2001, she departed for the Arabian Sea to support a coalition against international terrorism. In 2006, she sailed as the Flag Ship of the Standing NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Maritime Group One. In April 2008, Iroquois sailed from Halifax for the Arabian Sea, as part of Canada's contribution to Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, the code-name for the campaign against terror. Iroquois continues to conduct operations in support of Canada’s domestic and international policies.

The Iroquois Class destroyer Athabaskan was commissioned on September 30, 1972. Over the course of the next 20 years, as part of the First Canadian Destroyer Squadron she deployed on a multitude of NATO and other allied exercises; she was the flagship for the Standing Naval Force Atlantic several times. As well, she participated in fisheries and sovereignty patrols. In 1990, she participated in Operation FRICTION as flagship for the Canadian Task Group in the Persian Gulf War. She underwent an extensive mid-life upgrade refit from 1991 to 1994. In 1995, she took part in Exercise UNITAS along with ships from South America, Spain and the United States. In 2006, she sailed for the Gulf of Mexico to deliver humanitarian aid supplies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She served several times as flagship of the Canadian Fleet Commander and in 2007 embarked the staff commanding the Standing NATO Maritime Group One.

The last of the Iroquois Class destroyers, Algonquin was commissioned on November 3, 1973. In 1974, she rescued the crew of the fishing vessel Paul & Maria, sinking east of Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1977, she was the first of her class to cross the equator. After 10 years in service, she had steamed more than 200,000 nautical miles, spent an actual 3 years at sea, had taken part in more than 20 multinational exercises and completed 4 tours of duty with the Standing Naval Force Atlantic (SNFL). On June 24, 1993, now stationed on Canada’s west coast, she transited the Suez Canal to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) vessels in the Adriatic enforcing the blockade of the former Yugoslavia. In 1995, she took part in a United States battle group training exercise off southern California. In March 1996, she left Esquimalt, British Columbia, to participate in Exercise Westploy '96 and visited Japan, the Soviet Union and South Korea. More exercises with Pacific rim countries followed during 2000 and 2001. On March 23, 2002, she was deployed on Operation APOLLO (Canada’s contribution to the campaign against terrorism) in the Gulf of Oman. In 2003, she underwent a refit period and since then has been nearly continually at sea, participating in large multinational exercises and conducting Maritime Security Patrols in the Canadian coastal waters of British Columbia. Algonquin continued to conduct operations in support of Canada’s domestic and international policies.

The $5.2B Command & Control and Air-Defence Capability Replacement project was DND's initial plan to replace the Iroquois class destroyer. CADRE was shelved in 2002 but quickly re-emerged rebranded as the DRP (Destroyer Replacement Project) a component of the Single Class Surface Combatant Project (in turn rebranded as CSC, the Canadian Surface Combatant), the replacement of Iroquois and Halifax class vessels. By 2010, DRP was the first and major component of CSC. The options analysis for the Destroyer replacement project was initiated without any long-term funding in place.

With the destroyer replacement project might be a point at which the existing destroyers are no longer operational and the new ones are not yet commissioned. The aim is that there would not be a gap but a handover. There is always the potential for ships of a certain age, once they are into their 40s, for surprises. For example, HMCS Protecteur, which was deployed in the Mideast, was commissioned in 1969. It was 39 years by the time she returned from her 2008 deployment. That age took the Canadia Navy beyond previous experience. One can always be surprised in theory. The Canadia Navy has had great success in maintaining these supply ships but that does not mean there cannot be surprises. The aim with the destroyers is to keep them operating to achieve a handover at some point.

Displacement:5120 tons- 5,146 tonnes
Length: 129.9m-130 meters / 426'
Beam 15.2 meters / 50'
Draft7.6 meters / 22.3'
Propulsion: Two Pratt & Whitney FT4A2 gas turbines
50,000 shp;
two Allison 570KF gas turbines
12,000 shp;
two shafts with
five bladed controllable pitched propeller.
Speed:27+ Knots
Endurance:4500NM at 20 knots.
Missiles:29 medium range Anti-Air missile (SM2-MR).
Cannon:One 76mm Super Rapid Gun Mount (OTO Melara).
CIWS:One 20mm Close-in weapon system (Vulcan Phalanx).
Torpedoes:Two triple tubes firing MK46 anti-submarine torpedoes.
Helicopters:Capable of carrying two CH124 A/B Sea King.
Crew: 295 - 314 Officers and non-commisioned members.


Paid Off
Iroquois280Marine Industries Limited29 Jul 197203 Jul 19922014
Huron281Marine Industries Limited16 Dec 197225 Nov 199431 May 2003
31 Mar 2005
Athabaskan282Davies Shipbuilding 30 Sep 1972Apr 1991
03 Aug 1994
Algonquin283Davie Shipbuilding03 Nov 1973Dec 1990
11 Oct 1991

HMCS Iroquois HMCS Huron HMCS Athabaskan HMCS Algonquin


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Page last modified: 31-07-2018 08:46:21 ZULU