Halifax shipyard nets Arctic offshore patrol ships project

Project has been moving through the system since 2007


This in an artist's depiction of what the future Arctic offshore patrol ship could look like. (HANDOUT IMAGE)

This in an artist’s depiction of what the future Arctic offshore patrol ship could look like. (HANDOUT IMAGE)

Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax has received a “definition” contract for the Arctic Offshore patrol ships project, announced March 7 by Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose.

That contract is the first step of a seven-phase project worth an estimated $288 million and 200 jobs.

“Our government made the decision to build ships in Canada, while ensuring that the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard have the equipment they need to defend and assert our northern sovereignty,” said MacKay in a news release.

“Our government is steadfast in its commitment, and these new ships will help us achieve just that.”

“The Arctic/Offshore patrol ships represent a new capability for the Royal Canadian Navy that will help them achieve success in their missions—patrolling our three coastlines and protecting our sovereignty,” said Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, the associate DND minister.

This contract will be followed by a construction contract in 2015.

With this contract, Irving will “refine and complete” the Arctic Offshore patrol ships design before starting construction in 2015.

Once completed, the current contract will enable Irving Shipbuilding Inc. to know exactly what to build and how to build, the news release said.

“It will ensure that once the build contract is signed, construction of the ships will begin. At the same time, work will begin on improving and upgrading the Irving Shipyard to begin full ship construction in 2015, it said.

The Conservatives first promised during the 2006 election campaign to purchase a fleet of armed icebreakers, with the decision to go with the smaller, lighter patrol vessels criticized because of their inability to operate in the Arctic year-round.

Then, in July 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Ottawa would build eight special patrol ships for use in the Arctic.

The contract was originally supposed to be awarded in May 2009, with delivery of the first of eight ships set for 2013.

The construction of the Arctic patrol ships was estimated in 2007 to cost $3.1 billion, according to government officials. The $3.1-billion project is now expected to cost $40 million more than anticipated.

Another $4.3 billion would be spent for operations and maintenance over their 25-year lifespan.

A description of the ships say they must “have gun armament to assert Canadian sovereignty.”

MacKay did not say how many ships Ottawa now plans to build.

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