How Thales Is Supporting the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Ship Modernization

The recent commissioning and dedication into service of the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCGS) Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel, CCGS Sir John Franklin, was the first within the framework of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). The vessel, which will support marine science and research, search and rescue, and environmental operations and response, was also the Coast Guard’s first newly built large ship in more than 30 years.

 The NSS project highlights how the implementation of innovative methods and strategies enable this traditional industry to meet its challenges with world-leading, high-tech responses.

Digital transformation is all around us, influencing every aspect of our lives. It is not solely confined to tech companies and large multinationals; it is also changing the way governments meet the challenges they face across industries. The complex multi-mission role that ships, including the Sir John Franklin, will deliver under the NSS requires a company capable of providing full digital integration of the electronic systems.

For the NSS, Seaspan Shipyards, contracted by the Government of Canada, partnered with Thales to deliver non-combat vessels to the Canadian Coast Guard.  Thales’ long-standing relationship working with the Government of Canada was a crucial factor in their trust of the company’s processes and experience. Working hand-in-hand with Seaspan Shipyards and the Canadian Coast Guard was key to establishing the customer’s needs. This effort identified the best combination of equipment and technology to bring everything together in one coherent, fully integrated system.

DELIVERING THE RIGHT CAPABILITY TO THE END USERS

Designing complex ship systems is not just about selecting the right equipment – it is also about delivering the right capability to the end users. The integrated bridge on CCGS Sir John Franklin is a large space consisting of 10 task stations in 7 separate consoles that integrates 24 unique sub-systems. Although there will often be many operators on the bridge conducting various tasks, in some conditions, one person must be able to operate the bridge from a single centralized ship control station.

 Thales engaged with Coast Guard captains and fishing masters – the ultimate end-users of the systems – as well as human factors experts to understand the workflow and the manner in which critical information is to be managed and prioritised. The resulting 3D mock-ups of the bridge enabled the delivery of a system that has the right equipment in the right place, optimizing operations for the users.  

With Thales’s support, the Canadian Coast Guard now possesses a high-tech, first-in-class vessel that leverages the latest technologies in a world-leading, integrated system that enables the fulfilment of key ocean research and science missions for Canada.
 
In the Government of Canada’s recent news release, The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard stated, “This vessel signifies a momentous milestone for the Canadian shipbuilding industry and for the National Shipbuilding Strategy. This ship is built by Canadians for Canadians. With this vessel we are equipping the Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans scientists with the state-of-the-art tools and technology they need to complete their important work.”

A CLEAR ECONOMIC IMPACT

As part of its work on NSS, Thales also continues to invest in research and development in digital technologies that will benefit the maritime sector, including the CCG. This includes initiatives such as the use of converged infrastructure to minimize computing hardware and maximize flexibility for on-board systems, as well as a remote monitoring capability to allow shore-based operators to securely monitor and potentially manage on-board systems.

The Canadian government has identified that its investment in the renewal of the Coast Guard Fleet strengthens both the technology of the Canadian Coast Guard and the marine scientists with whom they work – supporting the revitalization of the Canadian shipbuilding industry. The commissioning of the Sir John Franklin demonstrates Thales’s in-country expertise and capabilities, as well as its commitment to and investment in innovation in Canada.

The economic impact is clear:  over 73 suppliers located coast-to-coast from eight provinces across Canada are involved in the project, with investments totalling more than $14.5 million Canadian dollars. This speaks not only to Thales’s ongoing partnerships with small medium enterprises, but also to its own innovation drivers: Thales North America Digital Factory at cortAIx, focused on the development of TrUE artificial intelligence: Transparent, Understandable and Ethical; Thales Research & Technology (TRT), focused on the development of sophisticated technologies, particularly in detection, analysis and decision-making for critical information systems; and AI@CENTECH, a Thales and Technological Entrepreneurship Center, CENTECH,  start-up incubator program.

This country-wide ecosystem enables a trusted partner like Thales to work as closely as possible with its customers, and to better meet the digital and technological needs they have today as well as the challenges they will face tomorrow.