The Royal Canadian Navy has picked HMCS Montréal for ‘X-ship’ – a program designed to advance innovative naval concepts in all areas of warship deployment, crewing and sustainment.
For the next five years, Montréal will have this additional role along with its regular naval requirements.
Lieutenant-Commander Lorraine Sammut, Senior Staff Officer Operations at the New Capability Introduction Detachment in Esquimalt, said:
“To do this, we have been allotted a five-year period within which to build and execute a program that builds on existing trial concepts and develops new ones. Specifically, X-Ship will be tasked to conduct experiments that fall outside of normal fleet development activities, and be focused on supporting future classes of ships such as the Canadian Surface Combatant and Joint Support Ship.”
In the short term, many of the trials conducted will focus on human factors such as variations of crew size and impacts on crew rest and performance, as well as some operational trials.
“One of the driving tenets behind X-Ship is to explore crew modelling initiatives – future practices – that are forecasted to be employed in our next classes of ship,” explains LCdr Sammut. “One of the challenges we face is forecasting the level of human effort required to conduct a certain task, given that future ships will have increased levels of automation. To forecast the baseline, the navy, in partnership with Defence Research and Development Canada, uses a crew modelling prediction software and inputs what we already know to be true.”
Crewing configuration will vary over the five-year program and is dependent on the crewing experiment being conducted at the time. Notwithstanding, X-Ship will remain crewed by Canadian Armed Forces personnel, and outside of the crew experiments being conducted, Montréal will be crewed as usual for Halifax-class frigates.
In support of future platforms like Canadian Surface Combatant where crew size is forecasted to be smaller than the current frigate model, one crewing concept being tested early in the program is a reduced crew complement.
Although X-Ship will have a dedicated trial program, it will not be completely removed from everyday naval requirements and will continue to participate in scheduled engineering repair, docking work periods, fleet training exercises and support to the new shipborne Cyclone helicopter.