Kelly George, a Welder at Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott stands beside HMCS Sackville inside the Submarine Shed welding a piece of the hull while in full protective gear.

Kelly George, a Welder at Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott, hard at work on the hull of HMCS Sackville. Photo credit: Evan De Silva.

Happy 25th Anniversary Fleet Maintenance Facilities Cape Breton and Cape Scott

25 years serving the Royal Canadian Navy’s Pacific and Atlantic Fleets

April 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the inception of the Fleet Maintenance Facilities Cape Breton and Cape Scott (FMFCB/FMFCS), the Royal Canadian Navy’s dedicated engineering, repair, and maintenance facilities who stand strong and proud on each of Canada’s coastlines within HMC Dockyard Esquimalt, B.C., and HMC Dockyard Halifax, N.S.

The past quarter-century has seen teams of military and civilian engineers, tradespersons, project planners, and other workers deliver on their mandate to serve the technical needs of the RCN fleet through operating these world-class ship repair facilities, whose work is rooted in that of collaboration and a commitment to excellence. 

The FMFs were formed through the amalgamation of three separate engineering, maintenance, and repair units: Ship Repair Unit Atlantic/Pacific (SRUA/P), Naval Engineering Unit Atlantic/Pacific (NEUA/P), and Fleet Maintenance Group Atlantic/Pacific (FMGA/P). The Fleet Maintenance Facilities took their current names from FMGA/P, which were former Cape-class maintenance ships – HMCS Cape Scott (ARE-101) and HMCS Cape Breton (ARE-100). The ships were permanently berthed alongside the opposite coasts of their namesakes as floating dockyard maintenance and repair facilities in the 1970s, however, were later moved into shore facilities.  

Over the years these facilities have grown substantially, with FMFCS now boasting a total building count of 13, with an overall footprint of more than 81,000 square metres (871,929 square feet). On the West Coast, a consolidated Ship Repair Zone (SRZ) has been created through the FMFCB modernization project (C4360) which included the construction of D250 – at 48,000 square metres (516,667 sq. ft.). C4360 brought with it the construction of the 2,300 square metre (24,700 sq. ft.) Central Storage Facility, and has made FMFCB one of the largest buildings by volume on the West Coast of North America. 

  • Sail Loft Worker John Reid sits in the Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott Sail Loft with his hands carefully guiding fresh material under a sewing machine needle as he sews new mail bags which will be used by military mail personnel. These new bags are made out of nylon which are more durable than the previous bags which were made out of canvas.
  • Antoinette Yap, a Millwright Apprentice at Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton, stands in overalls as she scrubs the end of the 57mm barrel of HMCS Winnipeg’s main gun in preparation for an Inspection of Naval Ordinance (INO).
  • The top half of Royal Canadian Navy Submarine, HMCS Windsor, is seen alongside Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott while teams from FMFCS work to conduct authority for the trail of underwater weapons handling systems.
  • Kelly George, a Welder at Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott stands beside HMCS Sackville inside the Submarine Shed welding a piece of the hull while in full protective gear.
  • Sheet Metal Worker at Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton, Carmen Collins, stands in overalls with one hand on the computer part of the sheet metal laser cutter, a renowned piece of equipment in the Sheet Metal Shop.

The FMFs are comprised of seven departments – Operations, Engineering, Production, Unit Support, Finance, Strategy, and Process Integration, with the Production department carrying out the following outstanding capabilities:

  • Command and Control Systems;
  • Communication Systems;
  • Above Water and Under Water Weapons Systems such as guns, missiles, fire-control and torpedo systems;
  • Hydraulic Systems;
  • Marine Diesel, Gas Turbine, Electrical Propulsion, and Auxiliary Systems;
  • Electrical Generation and Distribution;
  • Hull Maintenance and Fabrication resources;
  • Machining; and
  • Submarine Systems such as periscope maintenance and weapons certification, among others. 

As industrial, technological, engineering, and production hubs, the Fleet Maintenance Facilities are strategic assets for the RCN who provide a full range of naval engineering, maintenance, and repair services to support the operational availability of the Navy’s warships and submarines, auxiliary vessels, and other Formation units. The majority of work is completed onsite in the HMC dockyards, however, mobile repair parties further extend their capabilities by providing the ability for specialized technicians to meet up with deployed RCN ships worldwide. 

The work executed by the FMFs is expansive, with the design and production of wet and dry suits for RCN Clearance Divers, maintenance and repair of RCN life rafts, installation of the CEROS 200 fire-control system, design and implementation of the commemorative disruptive paint schemes for HMC ships Regina (FFH-334) and Moncton (MM-708) for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic, and the continuous work dedicated to preserving HMCS Sackville (K181), the world’s last surviving Flower-class corvette from the Second World War. 

Undoubtedly, the many talents and expertise at work within these impressive facilities give them their strength and ability to adapt. Time and time again the FMFs have been presented with particularly challenging technical problems, each time finding solutions and achieving success through their creativity, adeptness, innovation, and persistence. The varying degree of skills found in the offices and more than 70 different shops and work centres continue to be invaluable, especially when timelines are tight and repairs are complicated.

Many of the faces have changed (or aged) over the years, but delivering first-class support to the RCN has remained. With every turn of a wrench and engineering change designed and implemented, the Fleet Maintenance Facilities continue 25 years later to provide un-wavering service to the Admiral, and the sailors who take the vessels to sea. 

Happy 25th Anniversary Fleet Maintenance Facilities Cape Breton and Cape Scott!

The Royal Canadian Navy’s engineering and technical repair and maintenance facilities, the Fleet Maintenance Facilities Cape Breton and Cape Scott, located on Canada’s West and East Coasts, are celebrating their 25th year since being stood up as two units through the amalgamation of six units in 1996. 

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