Canada Moves Ahead on Building Arctic Capabilities


2013-03-08 While the US dithers on offshore patrol boats, Canada doesn’t.

Ottawa’s plan to bolster the navy’s fleet nudged toward the drawing board Thursday after it signed a contract to design the next generation of Arctic offshore patrol ships.

The deal with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax is worth an estimated $288 million and divides the design work into seven phases including engineering and project management before the vessels can be built.

A worker heads past CCGS Corporal Teather C.V., a Hero-class patrol vessel, at the Irving shipyard in Halifax, on Oct. 19, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose said the work will assess capability, affordability and risk of constructing the ships, which is expected to begin in 2015.

“The important part of this is to make sure we get the design right and at that time we will have substantive costs,” Ambrose told a news conference in Halifax.

Neither Ambrose nor Defence Minister Peter MacKay would specify how many Arctic offshore patrol ships would be built under the project. The federal government has promised to build between six and eight of the vessels.

MacKay said the government’s intention is to build “as many ships as possible” with the funding made available.

And the shipbuilder indicated a global reach to the program.

“We had to seek experienced naval design expertise in Denmark to augment our own program here,” he said.