I was selected by the Project Manager to setup a west coast project detachment and manage all west coast activities which included finishing the construction of five of the 12 ships and running each ship through weapons and sea trials.
The Canadian Patrol
Frigate (CPF) Project was a $10 billion procurement project
undertaken by the Department of National Defence of Canada beginning
in 1975 to find a replacement for the Annapolis, Mackenzie,
Restigouche, and St. Laurent-class destroyer escorts. The CPF Project was
considered a core effort in the fleet modernization of Canada in the
1980s. Facing several contract hurdles, the construction
program got underway in 1987. The CPF became known as the
Halifax-class frigate upon the construction of the ships. The
Halifax class replaced the destroyer escort classes in the 1990s and
remains a core element of the fleet.
This was much easier said than done. By far the largest challenge was coordinating the efforts of the various stakeholders who almost all had competing goals and interests. For example there were five systems contractors whose primary interest was securing sign-off on the correctness of their equipment installations. Much of this required the ship to be in a particular state that was often not acceptable to other contractors. As well there was constant pressure from the Admiral's staff to use each ship for public relations tours. To resolve scheduling conflicts for the following week I would gather all stakeholders in one room every Friday to reach a consensus on the ship's activities for the following week. This involved some 26 stakeholders and their assistants so we often had 50 to 60 people in the room all promoting their preferences while being sure not to expose their 'real' hidden agendas.
consequence of error in this position was extremely high which
kept me working 10 hour days for seven days a week. I
recall shortly after leaving the detachment tests were being
conducted on the illumination rocket launcher on HMCS Winnipeg.
As in most cases testing the missile or rocket launcher in this
case required sending the same signals that would be sent in
live action. The only difference is that during the tests
the signal is heavily attenuated using a bank of attenuators. In
Winnipeg's case a technician put the wrong attenuators in place
and the rocket fired while the ship was in harbour. the rocket
flew some 4 miles before striking a building in Victoria housing
Pete's Awnings. Luckily no one was injured.
This was by far the most challenging position I had held to date. It required 10-12 hour days on site and work on most weekends for the four years I was in this position. The consequences of error were huge and included the loss of life. Needless to say I was ready to move on after this position and decided it was time for me to make the transition to civilian life.