Politics

Trade tribunal rejects rival's bid to block warship contract

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal has dismissed a complaint by one of the companies that was competing for the job of designing and helping to build the navy’s next generation of warships.
Workers at Halifax's Irving shipyard during a shift change on Nov. 1, 2018. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal has dismissed a complaint by one of the companies that was competing for the job of designing and helping to build the navy's next generation of warships.

Alion Science and Technology Corp. and its subsidiary, Alion Canada, filed the complaint in November and asked that the signing of the contract with the preferred bidder be postponed until the matter could be heard.

The trade tribunal, in a decision rendered late Thursday, said the company did not "have standing to file a complaint" before the agency.

Last fall, the Liberal government announced plans to award the design contract to a group of companies led by Lockheed Martin Canada and opened negotiations with the intention of completing a full contract this winter.

Alion, Lockheed Martin Canada and the Spanish company Navantia were all in the running for the Canadian Surface Combatant project, which will be built at Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax.

The federal government issued a statement Friday and indicated progress towards a final contract was ongoing.

"Public Services and Procurement Canada is pleased with the CITT's ruling," said department spokesman Pierre-Alain Bujold. "We have full confidence in our process, and continue to work toward awarding a contract for the design and design team for the future Canadian Surface Combatants."

Alion had pitched its De Zeven Provinciën Air Defence and Command (LCF) frigate, a Dutch-designed warship, for the Canadian competition and has pointed out that the warship is already in service in other countries.

The company had asked the CITT to investigate the procurement deal, saying the preferred warship design — the British-built Type 26 — would need substantial changes and and further claimed it doesn't meet the navy's requirements as outlined in the government tender.

Alion also had filed a Federal Court challenge of the project last fall.

The design competition went on for almost two years as Public Services officials and executives at Irving worked with bidders to ensure a fair competition and to avoid post-decision court fights.

The first of the new warships, intended to replace the navy's frigates, are not expected to be in the water until the mid-2020s, at the earliest.

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