Bidding for the Navy’s Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program has been pushed back to the summer, according to the federal government.

The submission of proposals for the $26.2 billion program to source 15 new maritime combat ships for the Royal Canadian Navy was originally due on April 27th this year.

Twelve pre-qualified bidders had the opportunity to provide input on drafts of the request for proposal as well as the final version, prior to the RFP’s release on Oct. 27, 2016, according to the Public Service and Procurement Canada.

However, the PSPC and Irving Shipbuilding Inc., the prime contractor for the program, yesterday released a statement saying submissions will now be received until June 22nd.

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According to the PSPC and Irving, companies interested in the project had requested the extension.

“In order to meet the requirement of the Royal Canadian Navy and provide economic benefits to Canada, it is important to ensure that the government receives the maximum number of bids that meet technical requirements and of high-quality economic benefits to Canada,” the statement said. “At this point, based on feedback from industry, an extension is the best course.

With this extension, the targeted completion for the procurement process remains the fall of 2017, with ship construction starting in the early 2020’s, according to the PSPC.

In addition to requests for an extension to the closing date, the procurement department said, bidders also submitted a range of questions about the procurement.

As of February 10, 2017, bidders submitted 164 questions and received 88 responses.  Bidders have until March 10, 2017, to submit additional questions, according to the PSPC. All questions received prior to this date will receive a response.