The design of HMCS Ottawa and her sisters was born as a replacement for the aging St. Laurent, Restigouche, Mackenzie, and Annapolis classes of destroyer escorts, which were all tasked with anti-submarine warfare.
The Royal Canadian Navy is in the process of modernizing its fleet, this will be the largest peacetime modernization program. Until completed, the twelve Halifax Class Frigates are still the spine of the Royal Canadian Navy. Halifax Class Frigates make a complete team with Victoria Class Submarines and Kingston Class Maritime Coastal Defense Vessels. The combination will continue to guard Canadian waters till new Canadian Surface Combatants take over this responsibility.
The Halifax-class frigate, also referred to as the City class, is a class of multi-role patrol frigates that have served the Royal Canadian Navy since 1992. The class is the outcome of the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project, which dates to the mid 1970s. All Halifax Class vessels are designed to deal with surface and air threats apart from conventional submarine attacks. These vessels are named after major Canadian cities choosing at least one city from each Canadian province. Among their number became HMCS Ottawa, FFH 341, which was the twelfth and final ship of the Halifax class.
The Halifax Class frigate Ottawa was launched in Saint John, New Brunswick, on May 31, 1996, and was commissioned in Cornwall, Ontario, on September 28, 1996. She is the fourth vessel to carry the name HMCS Ottawa. The first three were named for the Ottawa River. This ship is the first named for Canada’s national capital, the City of Ottawa. Ottawa serves on Maritime Forces Pacific missions protecting Canada’s sovereignty in the Pacific Ocean and enforcing Canadian laws in its territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone. Ottawa has also been deployed on missions throughout the Pacific and to the Indian Ocean; specifically the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea on anti-terrorism operations.
The design of HMCS Ottawa and her sisters was born as a replacement for the aging St. Laurent, Restigouche, Mackenzie, and Annapolis classes of destroyer escorts, which were all tasked with anti-submarine warfare. As completed, the HMCS Ottawa displaced 4,750 long tons and were 134.65 metres long overall and 124.49 metres between perpendiculars with a beam of 16.36 metres and a draught of 4.98 metres. That made them slightly larger than the Iroquois-class destroyers.
The vessel are propelled by two shafts with Escher Wyss controllable pitch propellers driven by a combined diesel or gas system of two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, generating 47,500 shaft horsepower and one SEMT Pielstick diesel engine, generating 8,800 shaft horsepower. This gives the frigate a maximum speed of 29 knots and a range of 7,000 nautical miles at 15 knots while using her diesel engine. Using her gas turbines, the ship has a range of 3,930 nautical miles at 18 knots. The HMCS Ottawa has a complement of 198 naval personnel of which 17 are officers and 17 aircrew of which 8 are officers.
The stern arranges a helicopter flight deck fitted with a “bear trap” system allowing the launch and recovery of helicopters in up to sea state 6. The vessel deployed a Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, which acted in concert with shipboard sensors to seek out and destroy submarines at long distances from the ships. The HMCS Ottawa also carries a close-in anti-submarine weapon in the form of the Mark 46 torpedo, launched from twin Mark 32 Mod 9 torpedo tubes in launcher compartments either side of the forward end of the helicopter hangar.
As built, the anti-shipping role is supported by the RGM-84 Harpoon Block 1C surface-to-surface missile, mounted in two quadruple launch tubes at the main deck level between the funnel and the helicopter hangar. For anti-aircraft self-defence the ships are armed with the Sea Sparrow vertical launch surface-to-air missile in two Mk 48 Mod 0 eight-cell launchers placed to port and starboard of the funnel. The vessels carry 16 missiles. A 20 mm Vulcan Phalanx Close-In Weapon System is mounted on top of the helicopter hangar for “last-ditch” defence against targets that evade the Sea Sparrow.
The main gun on the forecastle is a 57mm gun from Bofors. The gun is capable of firing 2.4 kilogram shells at a rate of 220 rounds per minute at a range of more than 17 kilometres. The vessel also carry eight 12.7mm machine guns.
The decoy system comprises Two BAE Systems Shield Mark 2 decoy launchers which fire chaff to 2 kilometres and infrared rockets to 169 metres in distraction, confusion and centroid seduction modes. The torpedo decoy is the AN/SLQ-25A Nixie towed acoustic decoy from Argon ST. Two Thales Nederland SPG-503 fire control radars are installed one on the bridge-top and one on a raised radar platform on the forward end of the helicopter hangar. The ship is also fitted with Raytheon AN/SPS-49 long-range active air search radar. The sonar suite includes the CANTASS Canadian Towed Array and AN/SQS-510 hull mounted sonar and incorporates an acoustic range prediction system.
Ottawa serves on Maritime Forces Pacific missions protecting Canada’s sovereignty in the Pacific Ocean and enforcing Canadian laws in its territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone. Due to her Cold War roots, Ottawa was given a modernization to keep her viable on the changing battlefield. This involved upgrading the command and control, radar, communications, electronic warfare and armament systems.
Most recent, in June and July 2018, Ottawa, along with sister ship Vancouver and the supply ship Asterix, took part in RIMPAC 2018 around the Hawaiian Islands. In February 2019, Ottawa left Esquimalt for a month-long deployment training with the US Navy.