VICTORIA -- The Canadian warship HMCS Saskatoon is due to return to sea next month after undergoing approximately $5 million in upgrades since July 2019.

The coastal defence vessel has been sitting in dry dock for more than six months of maintenance work in Victoria's Upper Harbour.

The work is part of a scheduled maintenance cycle, geared towards renewing the ship's hull and underwater valves and appendages, according to the Department of National Defence.

The Saskatoon's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems are also being refurbished, and the ship's galley is being updated as part of the work.

A Defence Department spokesperson said a new firefighting system will also be installed in the ship's machinery spaces before the Saskatoon returns to sea, likely by the end of February.

The total cost of the repair work is expected to reach $5 million, according to spokesperson Andrew McKelvey.

The Royal Canadian Navy maintains more than 70 auxiliary vessels and minor warships, including 12 Kingston-class coastal defence vessels which were all commissioned in the late 1990s. Six of those coastal defence vessels, including the Saskatoon, are based in Esquimalt, and six are based in Halifax.

The multi-role vessels are crewed mainly by naval reservists and can perform a variety of war-fighting and domestic patrol missions, including coastal surveillance and law enforcement.

The 55-metre Saskatoon displaces approximately 790 tonnes and is powered by two diesel-electric engines.

In 2017, the crew of the Saskatoon seized more than a tonne of cocaine off the Pacific coast of Central America during its deployment in Operation Caribbe.