New report says Arctic patrol ships are “on course for disaster”

Ships will be a “Titanic blunder” with a steep price tag


Here's an artist's depiction of an Arctic and offshore patrol ship. (FILE IMAGE)

Here’s an artist’s depiction of an Arctic and offshore patrol ship. (FILE IMAGE)

(Updated at 10:10 a.m.)

The new Arctic and offshore patrol ships that Ottawa wants to build are a waste of money, says a new report from the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“Titanic Blunder: Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships on course for disaster,” released April 11, says the federal government should cancel the procurement of the ships.

Instead, Ottawa should commission six to eight purpose-built high-speed offshore patrol ships based on a proven design.

The government should also build up the Coast Guard icebreaker fleet,” taking into account changing ice conditions and the need for the vessels to fulfill an additional, constabulary role.”

The procurement of six to eight ships for use in the Arctic and offshore was announced in 2007 with a budget of $3.1 billion, with an additional $4.3 billion for operations and maintenance over a projected 25-year lifespan.

That $3.1-billion project is now expected to cost $40 million more than anticipated.

But that’s not all.

The ships will be ineffective in the Arctic, and they will be too slow and unstable for offshore patrol functions along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the report says.

The ships will also cost 8 to 10 times per vessel what Australia and the United States are paying for similar high-speed patrol ships.

Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax received a “definition” contract for the Arctic offshore patrol ships project, announced last month.

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

You can order the “Titanic Blunder” report written by University of British Columbia political science professor Michael Byers, and Stewart Webb, visiting research fellow at the Rideau Institute, from the Rideau Institute.

On April 11, Ottawa tried to counter the criticisms in the report, defending its choices.

The news release stated that “the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships will give the Royal Canadian Navy an unprecedented capability, to operate in the ice, in both the low Arctic and high Arctic, and to have a persistent Arctic presence during the navigable season.”

“This will bolster the Government of Canada’s ability to deliver on its commitment to protecting and promoting Canada’s Arctic sovereignty on behalf of all Canadians, for generations to come. The Government of Canada has made Canada’s North a cornerstone of its agenda, and the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship project activities are aligned in support of this priority,” the news release said.

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