The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is upgrading its missile defenses against current and future air threats.

The first shipment of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) Block 2 recently arrived at Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Rocky Point near Esquimalt, B.C., home of the West Coast fleet.

These state-of-the-art missiles will better equip RCN frigates to eliminate external threats, said Rear-Admiral (RAdm) Christopher Robinson, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific.

“This upgrade ensures the Halifax-class can continue defending against evolving surface, sub-surface and land-based threats.” Anti-ship missiles can be fired from other ships, submarines and land-based launchers.

The ESSM Block 2 is a medium-range, surface-to-air interceptor used to counter high-speed anti-ship cruise missiles, supersonic maneuvering anti-ship missiles, high-speed maneuverable surface threats, and low-velocity air threats such as drones and helicopters.

In November 2022, the RCN successfully fired the first ESSM Block 2 from His Majesty’s Canadian Ship Fredericton at the naval range off the coast of Norfolk, Va. The exercise tested the missile’s integration into the ship’s combat management suite.

The RCN is currently undergoing a Point Defense Missile System Upgrade, which involves developing, acquiring and integrating a minimum of 174 missiles with the 16-launcher system currently aboard frigates.

This system, expected to be fully operational by December 2025, will sustain the Halifax-class ships’ ability to defend against current and future threats, at home and abroad.

“We often say ammunition is most dangerous when it’s regarded as being perfectly safe,” Lieutenant-Commander Newman said. “But we have a workplace culture where safety is fundamental to all our activities.”

When a frigate requests an ESSM Block 2 for delivery, Civilian Ammunition Technicians and Mechanical and Electronics Technicians of the Ship Repair Group at CFAD transfer the missile from its shipping container to the launch canister. They also conduct quality assurance checks before the scheduled pickup date at the Rocky Point ammunition jetty.