At CANSEC 2023, Vard Marine Inc. (VARD), a company under the Fincantieri umbrella, unveiled their new initiative, VIGILANCE, set to replace the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) Kingston Class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDV) under Pillar Two of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). In collaboration with Team Vigilance partners, including Thales Canada, Ontario Shipyards, SH Defence, and Fincantieri, VIGILANCE is designed to provide the RCN with a lightweight, operationally versatile military asset capable of global deployment. The VIGILANCE vessel not only performs the roles of the current MCDV but also extends its capabilities to include crucial naval warfare tasks, surpassing the MCDV and the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels (AOPV) in the littoral battlespace.

This partnership ensures that Team Vigilance meets the RCN’s future fleet needs with a customized naval solution, striking an optimal balance between performance and cost while upholding VARD’s reputation for life-cycle cost advantages in naval design.

Team Vigilance is actively forming a comprehensive coalition of Canadian companies to offer essential services and equipment for the program. The goal is to ensure VIGILANCE is designed, built, and equipped in Canada. Last October, at DEFSEC 2023 in Halifax, Team Vigilance introduced their Preferred Suppliers Program.

Thordon Bearings Joins Team Vigilance

VARD has selected Thordon Bearings Inc. (Thordon) as a preferred supplier for Team Vigilance. Based in Burlington, Ontario, Thordon secured its first naval contract in the early 1990s by supplying first-generation COMPAC bearing systems to the RCN’s Halifax-class frigates and Oberon-class submarines. Since then, Thordon has provided bearings and seals to over 50 Navies and Coast Guards worldwide.

“As a world leader in seawater-lubricated polymer bearing technology, bringing Thordon on board was an easy decision to render.  Given the fact that Thordon’s world-class products are manufactured right here at home and are already used throughout the RCN and CCG fleets means support costs will be greatly reduced over the entire life cycle of the Vigilance class.  Buying a Canadian product is also the right thing to do and reinforces the principle of creating enduring economic benefit right here at home,” expressed Derek S. Buxton, Vice President Business Development, Vard Marine Inc.

Under Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, Thordon Bearings has been a key supplier for the AOPS program, providing COMPAC propeller shaft bearings for all ships in the series.

“We are thrilled to be part of the team offering this ground-breaking design. Vigilance is tailored specifically to meet future RCN requirements under the second pillar of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. The state-of-the-art design brings together a wealth of Canadian expertise capable of balancing operational flexibility, multi-mission versatility, and cost efficiencies with a vessel designed, built, and equipped in Canada,” said Scott Groves, Vice President Sales, Thordon Bearings.

By incorporating Thordon as a preferred supplier, the VIGILANCE design will feature the company’s award-winning COMPAC seawater-lubricated propeller shaft bearings, SXL grease-free rudder bearings, and innovative SeaThigor mechanical face seals with a unique “safe-return-to-port” function.

The inclusion of a Canadian propeller shaft and rudder bearings manufacturer is due to the performance, reliability, and low acoustic signature of Thordon’s proprietary elastomeric propeller shaft bearings in naval applications over the past three decades.

“The unique properties of our COMPAC propeller shaft bearing system meets strict naval criteria not only in terms of bearing longevity, wear life and performance, but it has a lower coefficient of friction, greater shock resistance and a lower acoustic signature, compared to traditional naval bronze-backed rubber bearings. COMPAC ensures asset reliability,” explained Anna Galoni, CEO & Chair, Thordon Bearings.

The VIGILANCE vessel, with its lightweight hull, integrates the latest autonomous and mission system technologies and features a modular mission bay for various deck loadouts. Its capabilities are tailored to meet critical operational needs, such as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, subsea infrastructure protection, mine countermeasures, resource conservation, and maritime interdiction operations.