The DDH 280 Story

Author: Douglas Hearnshaw
Published: Feb 25th 2016
Updated: 4 years ago

The Story of the DDH 280 Program

An Overview Assembled from Many Sources by the late Douglas Hearnshaw

Preamble: The building of the DDH 280 destroyers for the Royal Canadian Navy spanned the period 1964 to 1973, when the last of the 4 ships was commissioned, and involved two major Canadian shipyards on the St. Lawrence River and a number of key sub-contractors. The chief players were the Department of National Defence as preliminary designers and owners, the Department of Supply and Services as government contracting agent, Marine Industries Ltd. as the Lead Yard shipbuilder and Davie Shipbuilding Company as Follow Yard shipbuilder. The Design sub-contractor to the Lead Yard was the Naval Central Drawing Office (NCDO), a facility located in Montreal at the plant of Canadian Vickers Ltd. The gas turbine main machinery sub-contractor was United Aircraft of Canada Limited located in Longeuil, Québec.

This presentation is intended to define the participants in the program, to describe their interrelationships and tell a brief story of how the DDH 280 Destroyer Program developed and successfully achieved its goals by producing four helicopter carrying destroyers, known as the Tribal Class, for the Royal Canadian Navy.

Since CNTHA is striving to record the history of this and other shipbuilding programs under its Oral and Written History Project, it was felt important to set the context for the various interview events that are planned, and to provide a basis for understanding the overall relationships and inter-responsibilities that prevailed throughout this contract. It is anticipated that individual interviews will be generated under the Oral History Project, each one dealing with some particular aspect of the building contract, and that over time a comprehensive record of this achievement will be realized. It is further acknowledged that gathering data by the oral history process may well span across CANDIB demarcations of ‘Shipyard interests’, ‘Ship Classes’ and ‘Design-house’ aspects, but in the interests of forming a comprehensive picture of the DDH 280 program, a combined effort is required. An ancillary benefit of this story presentation will be to allow the reader a better appreciation of the lessons to be learned from the contractual aspects of the project and so offer a warning of possible similar ship procurement hazards in the future.

Listed below are a number of sub-sections to this report that spring to mind at this time. Others may be added later as necessary. Contributions from any interested parties are invited to help fill out these sections with any facts or statements that are the least bit relevant. It will be important to add the names of all key participants in this program (as possible sources of additional information or as interviewees) and to mention all significant companies and subcontractors that made any contribution to the program. This is obviously a work in progress and will become more comprehensive and useful as additions are made and edited. All contributions will be acknowledged and referenced

  1. The Navy’s initial plan

Starting in 1964 the Navy undertook to prepare a design for these vessels and to generate the bidding documents that were to become the basis for competitive shipyard bids. Design work started in DG Ships Preliminary Design Section where the potential for gas turbine propulsion was incorporated. A raft design was introduced during the subsequent DGMEM Contract Design phase.

  1. Contract definition phase, the initial contractual bids/submissions and the basis of the Shipbuilding Contracts

The contractual package was eventually distributed to the Canadian marine industry for bids and these were offered by several yards. The contract that was eventually signed defined Marine Industries Ltd. as Lead Yard, building two ships, and Davie Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. as Follow Yard, building a further two ships. The working and finished drawings for the vessels were to be produced by the Naval Central Drawing Office (NCDO), operating under the direction of the Lead Yard. A contract was awarded to United Aircraft of Canada Ltd. for the supply of the main propulsion system.

  1. Implementation Phase:

Marine Industries Ltd. laid the keel of the first vessel in August, 1969 and delivered IROQUOIS to the Navy on 29 July 1972 following successful sea trials. Davie Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. closely followed the MIL performance and delivered its first vessel, ATHABASKAN, to the Navy also in 1972. Naval supervision of construction was carried out locally at the two shipyards, and periodic contractual meetings and inspections were organized by Naval and DSS authorities, these taking place in Sorel and Lauzon Levis, Quebec.

  1. Subcontracting processes and the NCDO relationship.

NCDO was under contract to MIL for the production of working and finished drawings. They were also under direction from the resident DND staff, and conflict arose over the interpretation of the DND specifications and the lead yard intentions for production processes, etc. covered by their bid.

  1. The Ships are Sea Trialed and delivered

The last vessel was delivered to the Navy from the Davie yard in 1973 (See schedule below)

  1. Follow-on events subsequent to ship deliveries (under development)

  2. Conclusions from the program and its consequences on the participants and the country as a whole

It is reported that the total cost of the program was $242 Million. This program was the last attempt by the Navy to prepare an initial design package for a new shipbuilding program. Subsequent programs saw the Navy contract this out to industry along with detailed design, shipbuilding and lifetime maintenance responsibilities. Both shipyards were eventually absorbed into a combined management structure and became known as MIL Sorel and MIL Davie. The former eventually closed in 1990, and Davie eventually fell into receivership but has recovered somewhat in more recent years.

The NCDO became an independent ship design agency operating under a number of different management structures. As MIL Engineering it eventually ceased operations in 2004.

The Tribal Class vessels underwent a modernization and refit operation under the
Tribal Update and Modernization Program (TRUMP) in 2000. By 2005 HMCS HURON was laid up in Esquimalt and subsequently sunk during a CANUS Naval exercise to the west of Vancouver Island.

Key Personnel:

DND (Department of National Defence):

  • Preliminary Design Phase: LCDR Bill Ogle, later replaced by CDR John Ashfield then CDR Ross Morgan, Lieutenant Larry St. Laurent, Lieutenant Gordon Smith, Roger Kingsley, Bob McGillivray, Jeanine (sec)
  • Contract Design Phase: CDR Hi Shenker, DGMEM: CMDRE Sam Davis, CMDRE Bill Christie.
  • DDH 280 Program Systems Engineering Office (in DGMEM): CDR Larry Wilkins, followed by CDR Bill Broughton.
  • DDH 280 Program Office: CAPT(N) Derry Dawson - (Former Head of NEDIT), then CAPT(N) Jock Allan, (Program Manager).
  • Principal Naval Overseer Montreal: CAPT(N) Keith Farrell, then CAPT(N) Tom Maxwell, Ken Salmon, Gordon Smith, LCDR Jock Dobie, Chris Bennett, CDR Alex Arnott, LCDR Graham Wagland, LCDR Dave Cutler and LT(N) Don Wilson.
  • Local Overseer and associated personnel - Sorel/Tracy: CDR Alex Arnott, LCDR Bob McNeilly, LCDR Don Wilson, LCDR Clarke Gudgeon, LCDR Dave Cutler, LCDR Ron Hahn, LCDR Bob Passmore, Lt(N) Wally Turner, LT(N) Ken Isles, LT(N) Doug Wilkie, LT(N) Tom Forbes, LT(N) B. Spanick, Bill Bonser and Bob McGillivray.
  • Local Overseer and associated personnel - Lauzon, Quebec: G.K. (Slim) Inglis, LCDR Ron Hanlon, LCDR Hugh Millman, LCDR Roger Chiasson, LCDR Joe Cunningham, LCDR Bob Douglas, LT(N) Grant Dunbar, LT(N) G. Rousseau, LT(N) F. Baldock, LT(N) Ted Heap, LT(N) Neil Walton and LT(N) Bill Gemmell.
  • Local Overseer, Longeueil: CDR Doug Benn and LCDR Ron Richards.
    [Note: A number of the overseeing staff ranks are listed in the ALGONQUIN commissioning book using integrated ranks – that here have been converted to naval ranks].

DSS (Department of Supply and Services): DSS Program Manager: Larry Sellick

MIL (Marine Industries Ltd.): Andre Rochette, (President); Bill White (VP), Andre Rochon, (project manager), Dave Moriera, (bid package preparation), Leon Tougas (Yard Manager), Maurice Gendron (Ship Manager), Marcel LaFrance (Planning), Jean-Yves Rheaume, Doug Hearnshaw, (Project Engineer), Tom Williams (Marine Engineer) and Claude Bourdon, (Trials Manager).

DSL (Davie Shipbuilding Ltd.): Takis Veliotis, (president), Michael Ayre, (Vice President Marketing) and Jimmy Gilliland (Ship manager).

NCDO (Naval Central Drawing Office) or MDDO (Marine Design and Drawing Office): Tom Campbell, (Manager).

MIL Reps: David Fraser and Danny Sampson.

UACL (United Aircraft of Canada Ltd.): Bob Sacks, Agie Sodi, Bill Burke and Art Sunley.

The ships:

Name Shipbuilder Keel laid Launch Delivery Paid Off
IROQUOIS DDG 280 MIL 15 January 1969 28 Nov 1970 29 July 1972 1 May 2015
HURON DDG 281 MIL 1 June 1969 9 April 1971 16 Dec 1972 31 March 2005
ATHABASKAN DDG 282 DSL 1 June 1969 27 Nov 1970 30 Sept 1972 10 March 2017
ALGONQUIN DDG 283 DSL April 1970 23 April 1971 3 Nov 1973 11 June 2015

References and Acknowledgements:

  • Dr. Eileen Marcil, ‘Tall Ships and Tankers
  • Jim Williams, ‘Canadian Industry Warship Design Capability’ Section 4.3.
  • Gordon Smith, DDH 280 Presentation 2006 and names of personnel associated with the program.
  • Don Wilson, names of personnel associated with the program, etc.

Story Update History:

  • 16 February 2006 – Initial version
  • 24 March 2006 - More personnel added, etc.
  • 14 April 2018 - Table formatting, added dates were made by the Webmaster, HMCS HURON’s Engineering Officer on commissioning, 16 December, 1972.