Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Coast Guard Renewal

The much anticipated Coast Guard renewal process was announced today by the Prime Minister at a photo op in Vancouver. With a federal election coming in the fall everything is now timed to maximize political benefit.  This announcement could have (should have) been made years ago, but at least the wheels are in motion.

The essence of the announcement as I understand it is as follows:

Halifax Shipyard / Irving Shipbuilding:
  •  will build two Arctic Offshore Patrol vessels for the Coast Guard. These will be adaptations of the six AOPS currently contracted for the RCN. (This will provide more stop gap work until the 15 ship surface combatant project gets rolling, and will likely be added at the end of the AOPS program. (That grinding sound you hear in the background is the gnashing of teeth in some CCG circles.) The AOPS ships are the great "unloved" of the RCN and now the CCG!

Vancouver Shipyard / Seaspan:
  • will build 16 multi-purpose vessels to include light [I hope this means medium duty at least]  ice breaking, environmental and SAR duties. This represent replacement of the entire current CCG fleet of medium and light duty icebreakers, navaids vessels and offshore patrol vessels of any significant size, except the three recent ex Swedish supplier/icebreakers. There was no indication in the announcement I saw today of how many classes of vessels are involved, but I think there will need to be at least two. One would be medium/heavy duty icebreakers and one would be light icebreaker/navaids types. 
  • VSY is also committed to building the polar icebreaker but just when is the question. The plan was for it to follow the JSS (Joint Support Ships) for the RCN which are underway now.That would mean that some of the newly announced vessels could start construction in 3 to 5 years.
"Another Yard"
As part of the announcement the PM said that the CCG will also get a new class of inshore, shallow draft, multi-mission vessels that can do inshore science.
No yard has been selected, but commentators expect that Davie will get the work.
I am not so sure. Details are skimpy on these vessels as of now, but in view of several past decisions, "in-shore" means undersized. Certainly well below the capabilities of Davie, and well within the capabilities of several smaller yards, mainly in Quebec, such as Meridian in Matane and Forillon in Gaspé, perhaps acting in consortium.
Davie has just been handed the Holiday Island and Madeleine replacements, which will be largish ships of medium to high complexity, particulary if they go with eco-hydrid types.

Since the vessels announced today will be some time (5 to 15 years) to complete, the CG has been allotted $2 bn to refit and life extend ships. Some of those will be limping to the finish line, but it will provide work for a variety of yards outside the National Shipbuilding Strategy program.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy already in place has committed to the following:

Vancouver Shipyard:
  • 3 Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (DFO /CCG)
  • 2 Joint Support Ships (RCN)
  • 1 big icebreaker (CCG)
  • 1 Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (DFO/CCG)
Halifax Shipyard:
  • 5, recently increased to 6, Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels (RCN)
  • 15 surface combatants - 12 frigates and three? destroyers

Still Missing:
One more interim supply ship for the RCN.  Maybe another sop to Quebec if the election polls are looking bad?


1 comment:

  1. Great reporting Mac. The AOPS class ships are not so bad. They can replace the Kingston class vessels. Better sort of training ships.