DEFSEC 2015 seemed to have a little more energy (and people) this year, perhaps bolstered by Irving’s recent announcement that they were finally cutting steel on the first Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship. Johnathan Bienko, a native of Cole Harbour, NS and Supply Chain Specialist for Irving’s AOPS program explained that, while the shipyards would most certainly be getting busier, Irving hasn’t exactly been twiddling their thumbs over the past few years. In addition to a massive expansion, the private, family-owned company recently completed its final delivery of the Canadian Coast Guard’s Mid-Shore Patrol Vessels, each with its own area of specialization, designed to operate within Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone.


DCNS goes “all-in” on CSC program

Not far from Irving was DCNS Technologies Canada, now a regular DEFSEC exhibitor. Olivier Casenave-Pere, the company’s president, confirmed that that DCNS would be pursuing the Warship Design (WD) and Combat Systems Integration (CSI) components of Canada’s Canadian Surface Combatant program, an interesting initiative considering that their FREMM offering has traditionally been delivered as a – more or less – all-in-one package. Awarding the WD component of CSC to DCNS would force the company to be somewhat creative, or flexible, as they worked with the CSI winner to redesign certain components of the ship. Ultimately, that would mean the FREMM, as we know it, wouldn’t really be a FREMM… but a Canadian ship bearing a close resemblance.


Lockheed Martin’s Maritime Advanced Training and Test Site (MATTS) facility tour

Which takes us across the river, to Dartmouth, where Vanguard toured Lockheed Martin’s MATTS facility on the third day of the show. Glenn Copeland, Director of Business Development, and Rosemary Chapdelaine, Vice President of Lockheed Martin Canada were generous with their time as they took us through the building, much of which is dedicated to testing the systems that will end up in Canada’s future CSCs if they are successful in their bid.

In the basement of the three-story complex, through a metal airlock chamber, is an impressively large training facility used exclusively by the Royal Canadian Navy. The entire area is designed to ensure that when naval officers are shouting orders, or “war cries” as Copeland called them, none of their voices will be heard anywhere else in the building.


Dedicated to FWSAR

Back at DEFSEC, Alenia Aermacchi was once again making its case for the C27-J, the longstanding competitor for the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Program. The most recent news from the Government of Canada on that marathon procurement was that the RFP (Request for Proposals) was extended. At first blush, you may be inclined to chalk that up to just one more delay… but Alenia’s Senior Advisor Steve Lucas made it clear that the move was actually a good thing. FWSAR is a very complex program, and in this case, the government wants to make sure that they – and everyone else involved – gets it right. A longer interview with Mr. Lucas will appear in a future issue of DEFSEC.


East Coast rises

It’s encouraging to see that the number of East Coast defence companies appears to be growing steadily from year-to-year. Kraken, a Newfoundland-based marine technology company engaged in the design, development and marketing of advanced sonar and acoustic velocity sensors was displaying some impressive technology at their booth. A conversation with David Shea, VP of Engineering and Marketing Manager Glenda Leyte, revealed an interesting story.

Years ago, a number of Volvos were dumped in Halifax harbour after being damaged during shipping. (or so one legend goes). Kraken used their sonar technology to check in on them, and the resolution was outstanding. A video playing at their booth was able to zoom in on the cars to see what kind of damage they had sustained, and you could clearly see collapsed roofs and open doors.

Kraken is growing quickly, and the company has been marketing its product internationally. Asked if its location (Conception Bay South, NL) made business difficult, Shea pointed out that since they ship everywhere, there really wasn’t a need to find a facility close to one of Canada’s major cities.


Williams, GD Mission Systems bring a BIG idea

Perhaps one of the most exciting developments at DEFSEC this year was the announcement made by Kelly Williams of General Dynamics Mission Systems. Now, exciting and defence trade shows usually do not go hand-in-hand, but Williams’ talk in DEFSEC’s redesigned presentation hall was something not to be missed.

After speaking at length about the Arctic, and why Canada needs to do more to address security, climate and environmental concerns, Williams jumped to something that no one saw coming: a floating arctic base developed in partnership with all government departments that have a vested interest in the Arctic.

Williams flashed a picture a conceptual picture of the base on the screen behind him; it’s basically a ship with modular components attached around it. A base in Canada’s Arctic would help Canadians better understand the challenges we face in that region, and could also be used by the military as a jump-off point for security (surveillance) operations.

Vanguard will write more on this topic in the months to come, but for now, Williams and General Dynamics Mission Systems deserve credit for their leadership and creative thinking on issues that really matter to Canadians. New ideas and big-picture thinking is good for this country, and the defence industry in Canada can play a larger role in that.


DEFSEC evolves, and impresses

Over the past few years, DEFSEC has modified the operational aspects of the show, trying to strike the right balance between meeting spaces; number and quality of presentations; quantity and quality of food; number of attendees; and user experience.

This year, it’s safe to say that organizers “nailed it.” DEFSEC is a high-quality, industry-focused show that has clearly responded to feedback they have received from attendees over previous years. With the NSPS now in “construction mode,” DEFSEC has solidified its place as a must-attend trade show for the Canadian defence industry.