The Canadian Patrol Frigate Project (CPF)  

HMCS Winnipeg In Victoria, BC

HMCS Winnipeg In Victoria, BC

HMCS Vancouver on Sea Trials  
HMCS Vancouver at Sea
Commanding Officer CPF Detachment

I was selected by the Project Manager to setup a west coast project detachment and manage all west coast activities which included finishing the construction of five of the 12 ships and running each ship through weapons and sea trials.

The Canadian Patrol Frigate (CPF) Project was a $10 billion procurement project undertaken by the Department of National Defence of Canada beginning in 1975 to find a replacement for the Annapolis, Mackenzie, Restigouche, and St. Laurent-class destroyer escorts. The CPF Project was considered a core effort in the fleet modernization of Canada in the 1980s.  Facing several contract hurdles, the construction program got underway in 1987. The CPF became known as the Halifax-class frigate upon the construction of the ships. The Halifax class replaced the destroyer escort classes in the 1990s and remains a core element of the fleet.

HMCS Calgary begining Construction Module for HMCS Calgary in Drydock

HMCS Calgary begins Construction

Construction Begins Module for in Drydock Final Module - HMCS Calgary

Canadian Patrol Frigate During Sea Trials  
CPF Ship on Sea Trials

CPF_Plaque Presented on my Retirement

CPF Retirement Plaque 1997

My role as the Commanding Officer of the CPF Detachment on the west coast was to received each ship from the east coast ship yard, complete outstanding construction and warranty issues, conduct sea trials of both the combat and marine systems and turn it over to the West Coast Admiral for operational duty.

This was much easier said than done. By far the largest challenge was coordinating the efforts of the various stakeholders who almost all had competing goals and interests.  For example there were five systems contractors whose primary interest was securing sign-off on the correctness of their equipment installations. Much of this required the ship to be in a particular state that was often not acceptable to other contractors.  As well there was constant pressure from the Admiral's staff to use each ship for public relations tours.  To resolve scheduling conflicts for the following week I would gather all stakeholders in one room every Friday to reach a consensus on the ship's activities for the following week.  This involved some 26 stakeholders and their assistants so we often had 50 to 60 people in the room all promoting their preferences while being sure not to expose their 'real' hidden agendas.

The consequence of error in this position was extremely high which kept me working 10 hour days for seven days a week.  I recall shortly after leaving the detachment tests were being conducted on the illumination rocket launcher on HMCS Winnipeg. As in most cases testing the missile or rocket launcher in this case required sending the same signals that would be sent in live action.  The only difference is that during the tests the signal is heavily attenuated using a bank of attenuators. In Winnipeg's case a technician put the wrong attenuators in place and the rocket fired while the ship was in harbour. the rocket flew some 4 miles before striking a building in Victoria housing Pete's Awnings.  Luckily no one was injured. 

This was by far the most challenging position I had held to date.  It required 10-12 hour days on site and work on most weekends for the four years I was in this position. The consequences of error were huge and included the loss of life.  Needless to say I was ready to move on after this position and decided it was time for me to make the transition to civilian life.

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