The Story of the Tribal Class Update and Modernization Project (TRUMP)

Tags:  candib papers 
Author: Tony Thatcher
Published: Jul 25th 2009
Updated: 4 years ago

Researched for CANDIB by Tony Thatcher
Version date: 10 April, 2017


The requirement for the TRUMP stemmed from a need to update the DDH 280 ships. TRUMP was considered the most ambitious Canadian warship conversion project in more than two decades. However, the program took 23 years from original conception in 1977 to final completion in 2000 (although the final expenditure by DND was made in FY2005/2006). Although, at $1.2 billion (the final cost was $1.4 billion according to DND FY 2005 budget estimates), considerably more expensive than the government’s preliminary 1983 ‘design-to-cost’ estimate of $650 million (in 1983-1984 dollars), the navy’s need for an area air defence capability was judged sufficiently pressing to justify the additional expenditure. Originally there was concern in some quarters that TRUMP might have to be scaled back, possibly by converting less than four ships or by adopting a less expensive update package (i.e. the older Standard 1 missile and Mk 13 launcher) for all four ships (Aerospace Canada International, July-August 1986). Some cost saving measures were to update the ships’ existing torpedo handling equipment rather than install an entirely new system and to retain the existing ASW fire control system (Wednesday Report 1986). It was decided to discontinue the competitive bidding process and to sole source the implementation contract to Litton Systems Canada Limited of Toronto, partly on the basis of the urgent needs of the ship-building industry (Auditor General’s report 1987).

TRUMP was a brilliant idea when first conceived however it took a long time to complete and costs increased by $200M.  Also HMCS HURON was the last ship refurbished and was delivered in 1995, but five years later the ship was deactivated. The navy didn’t have enough money to run her. In November 2003, HURON’s fate was sealed when the navy announced that she was to be scrapped.  DND spent roughly $350 million in capital improvements alone on HURON so that she could serve a new role for less than five years (Legion Magazine November/December 2004).

In the major refits under TRUMP the 280’s emerged as area air defence destroyers. The “bunny" funnels were replaced with a single large funnel with an IR suppression system, new search and fire control radars were added, the old 5" gun was replaced with a new super rapid 76mm, the Mk.41 Vertical Launch Missile System (VLS) was installed, and other changes. Although hampered slightly by the lack of a 3D radar (cut as a cost saving measure) they are nonetheless very effective area air defence destroyers with their Standard SM-2 (MR) missiles (Ref:


The contract was awarded to Litton in July/August 1985.  As prime contractor, Litton acted as Project Manager and accepted total system responsibility to engineer, procure, construct and deliver the four converted vessels.  Litton’s Team consisted of the following main subcontractors:

  • MSEI: drawings
  • Davie: shipyard
  • Signaal (HSA), Holland: radars, fire control
  • Martin Marietta, Baltimore: Vertical Launch System
  • Vitro, Washington: Weapons Directions System
  • General Dynamics: Phalanx CIWS
  • Oto Melara Italy: 76mm super rapid gun
The Ships
Name Pendant Commission TRUMP Paid Off Homeport
IROQUOIS 280 1972-07-29 1992-07-03 2015-05-01 Halifax
HURON 281 1972-12-16 1994-11-25 2005-03-31 Esquimalt
ATHABASKAN 282 1972-09-30 1994-06-04 2017-03-10 Halifax
ALGONQUIN 283 1973-11-03 1991-10-11 2015-06-11 Esquimalt
Displacement: 5,100 tons full load
Dimensions: 128.92 x 15.24 x 4.42 meters (423 x 50 x 14.5 feet)
Propulsion: 2 shafts and VP propellers;
2 x 570 KF cruise gas turbines, 12,788 shp
2 x FT4A boost gas turbines, 51,000 shp;
29 knots
Crew: 285
Aviation: Helicopter deck with hauldown system;
Two CH-124 Sea King helicopters
Command & Control System: Federated SHINPADS bus system with standard computers
AN/UYK 501 and displays
Radar: AN/SPQ 501 (Signaal DA08) air/surface search
AN/SPQ 502 (Signaal LW08) air search
Sonar: SQS 510 hull
Fire Control: two AN/SPG 501 (Signaal STIR 1.8)
one LIROD (Lightweight Radar and Optronic Director)
EW: SLQ-501 intercept
SLQ-503 jammer
4 x 6-barrelled Plessey SHIELD IR/chaff
Nulka hovering decoy system
SLQ-25 Nixie
Armament: one 29 cell Mk.41 VLS (Standard SM-2MR Block IIA)
one 76mm/62 OTO Melara (Super Rapid) DP gun
.50 calibre machine guns
one 20 mm Phalanx  CIWS Mod 1B (upgrade to mod 1B in progress)
two triple Mk.32 12.75 inch torpedo tubes firing Mk.46 Mod 5 torpedoes.


Issues/Events of Interest

  1. Getting Sufficient Funding (Ivon Deblois/Robbie Preston) – they coordinated the original project pricing for an AAW fit which as initially far in excess of the original budget of DMRS. There was a desire within house to do a better job of estimating the costs internally than had been done for CPF.

  2. FMS/direct sale - Robbie Preston, through his experience in CDLS (W), was able to set up the agreement with the USN for direct sale (unlike the CPF which bought it equipment through FMS).  The USN (Adm ?) agreed to a direct sale arrangement as long as we dealt with Vitro for the Weapons Directions System, put in place an FMS case to provide a mechanism to transfer documentation and for navy to navy liaison, and to put a Canadian Naval liaison officer in Washington (Doug Burrell) working for Captain AAW in NAVSEA.

  3. Sole Source to Davie Shipyard - As PM Ivon Deblois dealt with the Litton lawsuit over the difficulties Litton had with the shipyard, which the Navy had required Litton to contract with (understood to be a deal as a result of awarding the CPF to Irving).

  4. CCS architecture – Litton did not want to run into the troubles CPF were having developing a truly distributed SHINPADS-based CCS.  Litton designed a federated system but still had difficulties getting the software to fit in the limited memory standard computers required by the navy. The ability to handle more targets than fire control channels and to prioritize weapons handling was accomplished by uniquely Canadian developed Threat Evaluation Weapons Assignment (TEWA) software (Gord Forbes).

  5. Standard Missile Block 2 (SM2) - This missile came in two versions. Tartar and Aegis depending on the particular USN vessel and fire control system. The Tartar version was expected to be taken out of service during the lifetime of the TRUMPed vessels. The USN recommended a unique Canadian version be assembled by the USN armament depot Indian Head to account for our fire control equipment. However we resisted this option and wanted to be able to operate the Aegis version as we would then be common with the USN for the entire 280 Class lifetime. The problem was that nobody was sure the Aegis version of the missile could be controlled in the Tartar mode (discontinuous fire control after launch). The USN permitted us access to the key missile scientific and support personnel in NAVSEA, APL, Dahlgren, VITRO and General Dynamics to resolve this issue.

  6. Mk 41 VLS – the missile vertical launch system had to rotated 90 degrees from its orientation in US ships to fit in the 280 hull because of size constraints.  A change to the software in the VLS controller was done.  However the USN was critical of fitting the system in the 280s because of hull flexure and felt that it would not work properly as a result. Overall the USN PM VLS was very concerned that the Canadian Navy could not operate the entire missile Standard missile system safely and put the necessary missile certification program in place such that there would be an incident such as an accidental firing (such as the one that occurred in the USN over Denmark in the early 1980s).

  7. Gun Debate – the Otto Melara 76mm gun was chosen over the Bofors gun which had been chosen by CPF.  There was some criticism over this in the navy.  The TRUMP PMO and Litton researched and assessed the capabilities of the two guns as being fairly similar in their ability to destroy air targets. Essentially the 76mm was a small big gun (water cooled) and the Bofors was a big small gun (air cooled). Otto Melara offered to buy back the original 5 inch guns and therefore offered a better price.


The Canadian navy received a state of the art area air defence ship as a result of TRUMP.  The Block 2 Standard Missile System had not been exported to any other country at the time. The US government had good confidence in Canadian industrial ability to integrate, trial and operate this top of the line suite as it allowed Canada to purchase the US equipment as direct sale (industry to industry) instead of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) which is their normal defence procurement export method.

Key Personnel


Capt(N) Robbie Preston - Project Manager 1983 – 1988 (abt)
Capt(N) Dennis Reilly – Project Manager 1988 - 1990 (abt))
Cdr Tony Thatcher – Combat Systems Manager 1985 - 1988
LCdr Jake Jacobson – Combat Systems Officer/Surface and Air Officer 1984 – 1987 (abt) Project Manager 1992 – 1994 (abt)
LCdr Gord Forbes – Surface and Air Officer 1987 – 1988 (abt)
Cdr Frank Porter – Engineering Manager 1984 – 1987 (abt)
Capt(N) Ivon Deblois – Project Manager 1980–1983 (abt) Combat Systems Manager 1988-1990 (abt) Project Manager 1990-1992 (abt)
Mr. Al Grainger – ILS Manager 1984 – 1992 (abt)


Mr. Aaron Rumstein - Procurement Director 1984 – 1987 (abt)
Mr. Jean Roy - Procurement Director 1984 – 1987 (abt)

Litton Systems

Mr. David Thwaites – Project Manager, Litton Systems 1984 – 1987 (abt)
Mr. Eddie Wood – Combat Systems Manager, Litton Systems 1984 – 1994 (abt)
Mr. Jim Steadman – Shipyard Manager in Davie,  Litton Ingalls, USA 1984 – 1994 (abt)
Mr. Dusty Miller – Naval Architect/Propulsion Systems, Litton Systems 1984 – 1994 (abt)
Mr. Ken Lofthouse – Weapons Systems Manager, Litton Systems 1984 – 1994 (abt)
Mr. Gord ________ - Project Director, Litton Systems