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HMCS Kingston Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs)

The Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel project has provided the Navy with twelve steel-hulled ships designed for multi-roled operations, including coastal surveillance and patrol, training and mine countermeasures. The basic equipment configuration includes surveillance radars, 40mm rapid-firing gun, two heavy machine guns, a modern communications suite and state-of-the-art navigation systems.

Specific mine countermeasures roles are achieved through the use of modular, transportable and easily installed "payloads". The payloads currently in service include route survey (for high-resolution side scan bottom mapping and change detection), mechanical minesweeping, and a bottom-object inspection vehicle. Additional payloads include the deep-sea intervention payload, a containerized diving system and additional accommodations for training purposes.

These vessels also provide support to other government departments such as the RCMP, Canada Customs, and Fisheries and Oceans (including the Canadian Coast Guard). The MCDV also supports search and rescue operations and environmental disaster response. The Naval Reserve has been tasked with the mission to carry out this mandate of maritime presence.

In the late 1980s, Canada's Navy recognized the need for an effective coastal defence platform that would complement Canada's balanced, combat-capable, general-purpose maritime forces. The decision to build twelve KINGSTON-Class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDV) has met this requirement. The first vessel in the class was launched in August 1995, and the last one delivered in December 1998.

These ships were designed and built to commercial standards, although some key areas, such as stability, flood control, manoeuvrability and ammunition storage are built to military specifications. Versatility is a key feature of these vessels. Each ship is able to accept and operate several different types of portable modules (payloads) for missions such as: bottom object inspections, minesweeping, and route survey. These payloads are complemented by specific team training and logistics support.

The primary role of these vessels is coastal surveillance and patrol. This involves a wide variety of missions including: general naval operations and exercises; search and rescue; and support to other government departments for various activities such as law enforcement, resource protection, and pollution control.

Well-trained crews are essential to any ship. The MCDV are primarily crewed by a maximum of 31 naval reservists and 2 Regular Force personnel. The size of the crew can be adjusted to meet operational requirements. Each crew member receives extensive occupational training, plus tailored training unique to the MCDV in one of the following: communication, navigation, engineering, mine countermeasures or route survey.

In keeping with Maritime Command's commitment to achieving a more equitable balance of naval assets between the East and West Coasts, six MCDV have been assigned to each coast; they are based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Esquimalt, British Columbia. The MCDV are equipped with four state-of-the-art route survey equipment packages, equally distributed on the East and West Coasts. This technology allows high quality geo-coded sonar imagery of the sea bed, which is essential in both the development of route mapping, and the detection and classification of mine-like objects. The single-bottom-object-inspection payload provides the capability to inspect objects on the sea bed using video sensors mounted on a remotely operated vehicle. With the standardized modular payload capability, the MCDV can be fitted with other types of mission possibilities.

The initial roles for these Kingston-class vessels were officer training, core at-sea training for the Naval Reserve, and mine countermeasure tasks to include mechanical minesweeping and route survey using remotely-operated vehicles and side-scan sonars, and support to clearance diving operations, explains Commander Peter Koch, Commander Coastal Division, Maritime Operations Group 5 in Halifax.

The introduction of eight Orca-class patrol craft training vessels between 2004 and 2008 brought less of a demand for the Kingston Class in the maritime surface and sub-surface (MARS) officer training role, and the re-focussing of the Naval Reserve has led to training reservists in more than just the MCDVs.

All of this meant that the ships have become less focussed on training and more focussed on operations, sailing beyond expectations in the missions they are assigned.

The Canada First Defence Strategy clearly underlines the importance for the Canadian Armed Forces to operate in the Canadian Arctic. Since they are built with an ice rating and can be operated quite efficiently, the MCDVs are ideal ships for tasks in the Arctic. While not robust ice-going vessels, the ships are nevertheless built to operate safely in 40 centimeters of first-year ice.

Their missions in the Arctic involve the core activities of surveillance and presence operations, but also include being a key enabler for other government departments to achieve their objectives including: conducting fisheries patrols with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; surveying/charting for the Canadian Hydrographic Service; patrolling wildlife protected areas for Environment Canada; searching for historically significant artefacts with Parks Canada; facilitating research and development for Defence Research and Development Canada; being available for search and rescue; and environmental emergency response.

Kingston700..21 Sep 96....2026
Glace Bay701..26 Oct 96....2026
Nanaimo702..10 May 97....2027
Edmonton703..21 Jun 97....2027
Shawinigan704..14 Jun 97....2027
Whitehorse705..17 Apr 98....2028
Yellowknife706..18 Apr 98....2028
Goose Bay707.. 26 Jul 98....2028
Moncton708..12 Jul 98....2028
Saskatoon709..05 Dec 98....2028
Brandon710..05 Jun 99....2029
Summerside711..18 Jul 99....2029

Length, over all



15 knots




5000 nautical miles




2 x 1150kw DC motors


934 tons


35 officers and crew


1 x 40mm rapid fire gun, 2 x 50 cal. HMGs

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Page last modified: 29-11-2015 19:02:50 ZULU