Babcock, the global engineering services company, has secured a $384m (Canadian) three year extension to its existing strategic submarine support contract from the Canadian Department of National Defense for its fleet of four Victoria Class submarines.

The original VISSC contract has been further extended to June 2021 and will see a team of more than 400 highly experienced Babcock engineers, project managers and specialist support staff continue to support all four submarines in refit and in service.

VISSC is the largest naval in service support contract in Canada say Babcock and includes project management, refits and maintenance, capability upgrades, logistics, configuration/safety records and engineering support. The main contract covers core work and tasking with deep maintenance periods – termed Extended Docking Work Periods (EDWP), included as required by the submarine operating schedules. 

Mike Whalley, President Babcock Canada said:

“Babcock is a trusted industrial partner to the Royal Canadian Navy and the further extension to the VISSC underlines the belief in our expert delivery and our team’s world class support.

We continue to invest in Canada’s strategic submarine capability through our skilled people, Canadian supply chain and our processes and this contract extension is a real endorsement of everyone’s hard work and technical outputs. We are delighted to be continuing this relationship with a much valued customer.”

In December 2014, Babcock Canada handed over HMCS Chicoutimi back to the Royal Canadian Navy following a successful EDWP, the first managed by Babcock Canada through the Victoria In-Service Support Contract (VISSC).

Chicoutimi has subsequently undertaken a highly successful trans pacific deployment and joint operations with the US and Japanese navies. Babcock is currently undertaking HMCS Corner Brook’s EDWP and is in the planning phase for HMCS Victoria.

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Our old diesel electric fleet still strong for the Canadian’s after all these years then…

Nick C

So right, we really should have kept them. However, onward and upward, let’s see what the forthcoming review has to say. It could be just deadly dull political speak, on the other hand let’s be optimistic and hope that it has been taken seriously.


After a huge amount of pain yes


Yeah, they were in a pretty sorry state when Canada got them.


Yes – caused a lot of friction when they realised the state they were in. But, that tells a morality tale on the value of proper maintenance


They where offered to Canada as soon as they where built and they faffed around haggling over price and the usual politicing. Hopefully a lesson learned on their side.

Daniele Mandelli

Ooooh that escaped me.

Our old Upholder class.


Stephen G.

It’s a shame we didn’t develop a successor class to these as a cheap way to boost submarine numbers, and use the Type 31s as a cheap way to boost the surface fleet numbers.

Sceptical Richard

Keeping them would have only served as an excuse for politicians to fund fewer SSNs.


Not exactly, the MOD and RN put them up as an option for cuts in the 90’s not expecting the Government would actually do it.


A complex issue with much blame to be spread around in the UK and Canada. Canada dragging its heals when these were the only brand new SSK in the world going spare was but one issue. I have written about this elsewhere but here is the key points: 1) These boats were the first four of an intended twelve to be built in three batches at different yards 2) All submarines experience defects often major with the early builds in a class. This was no different for the first and eventually only four Upholder built 3) They never completed their… Read more »


Good answer. I hate the simplified accusations from Canada that we sold them shoddy submarines, compeltly ignoring their own mistakes and falirues in the issue.


Good answer did not know half of that, thanks for update.


I should point out that my points about the Torpedo choice also have some mitigating factors that should be discussed. There was some logic to retaining MK48 for operation on the Upholder/Victoria class. 1) When the Canadians were dragging their heals over buying the Upholder class during the 90’s there were significant problems with the Spearfish torpedo to be rectified. Considering the prior development problems with MK24 Tigerfish their reluctance to consider the Spearfish is understandable. Also it would be an expensive weapon system vs the MK48 2) There was significant built in experience with MK48 within the Canadian Navy,… Read more »

Paul T

Excellent posts thanks,certainly answered a lot of questions I had in mind.I wasn’t aware of the 3 batches of 4,from what I can remember when these were built that the shipyard/factory was a new facility built specifically for this class.The imagination in me wonders if a new design of SSK could be built in the UK based on the Astutes in the same way the Upholders owed some design to the Trafalgars.


I’m all for a small fleet of ssk too, but I would think redesigning the astute would be too expensive. But we need the high low mix as per with our frigates to get numbers. What I would love to know is what the state of play with autonomous subs is. Is the technology there yet to design a large full combat 1-2000 tonne one? For me, if there was some money soon for another option, I would buy an ssk design and tweak the design to get us back in the game. Then we start on designs for Astutes… Read more »


The Astute hull would not be a good basis for an SSK design, far better would be a new hull utilising systems used in the Astute class. The only way a new UK SSK design would happen is if the UK Government decides it wants one. The only path to that I can see is if Labour win an election with Corbyn as their leader who would be hell bent on winding up the Nuclear submarine programme. Switching to SSK would be a way to sell the idea but I have a hunch it would not be a popular idea… Read more »