Contract signed for Arctic patrol ships

Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal sails in ice-free waters off Baffin Island. The AOPS buy may represent the only example of the Harper government taking global warming seriously.

On March 7th, the Harper government signed a $288-million contract with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax for design work on the long-promised Arctic offshore patrol ships. But construction of the ships is not expected to begin until 2015 (“Ottawa announces $288-million contract for design of Arctic patrol ships,” Canadian Press, 7 March 2013):

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.

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. …

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.

“This is a new capability, so if we only had one more ship that would be one more than we have right now when it comes to our ability to provide this type of offshore capability and Arctic coverage,” he said. …

The ships were first announced by Ottawa in 2007 and were projected to cost $3.1 billion to build and $4.3 billion to maintain over their expected 25-year life cycle. They are the first vessels scheduled to be built under the $35-billion shipbuilding procurement project.

In October 2011, the federal government awarded the Irving shipyard a $25-billion deal to build 21 combat vessels in all. Seaspan Marine Corp. of Vancouver is to build seven vessels under an $8-billion contract for non-combat ships. A contract for another $2 billion for smaller vessels is yet to be awarded.

Photo credit: DND

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