Just weeks before the competition to design Canada’s next warship closed, a French and Italian consortium tossed what amounts to a political Hail Mary into the bidding process for the proposed $60 billion program.
Naval Group and Fincantieri delivered its now highly-publicised, eye-popping, proposal to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, CBC News has learned.
The pitch, which suggested Canada could save tens of billions of dollars, proved to be a frustrating parting shot for a consortium which had been considered one of the leading contenders in the highly-anticipated program.
It was a parting shot because, multiple government and industry sources tell CBC News the French and Italian consortium did not submit a formal bid by the Nov. 30 deadline to make its FREMM-class frigates Canada’s new surface warships.
A request for comment from Naval Group was not answered on Monday.
What the French and Italian consortium was trying to achieve by making an informal pitch to Sajjan outside of the structured bidding process, remains unclear.
In a story quoting unnamed sources, The National Post reported last week that Naval Group and Fincantieri had pitched a frigate replacement plan that would be $32 billion cheaper than the existing project estimate and involve building three of the 15 warships in Europe.
The informal proposal given to Sajjan, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News, also pledges a “fix price guarantee” and — significantly — promises to start construction of the first FREMM at the Irving Shipyard in Halifax in 2019.
It says it would charge $1.3 billion per ship, but “the final contract price will have to be defined by Irving Shipbuilding Inc.,” which is the federal government’s go-to yard for warship construction.
What the minister did with the pitch, dated Nov. 6, 2017, is unclear.
Sajjan’s office would not answer questions on Monday and referred all queries to Public Services and Procurement Canada, which also declined to talk about the unusual proposal.
The federal government received at least three bids for warship design by the time the over 13 month competition closed, said several sources with knowledge of the file.
Among the acknowledged bidders is the Spanish-led Navantia-Saab team, which is offering its F-105 frigate design. As well, Lockheed-Martin Canada and British-based BAE Systems Inc. made headlines last week with the submission of their proposal. The third bidder remains…