In The Media

Federal shipbuilding program suffers delays

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. David Perry)

The Star
December 9, 2016

OTTAWA—The federal shipbuilding program has hit another setback, as government documents show more delays in the construction of the navy’s new supply ships and the Canadian Coast Guard’s highly anticipated polar icebreaker.

The delays, revealed in departmental reports recently tabled in the House of Commons, are expected to cost taxpayers as the navy and coast guard are forced to rely even more heavily on stop-gap measures to address their needs.

The two supply ships, which together will cost $2.6 billion, and the $1.3-billion polar icebreaker, dubbed the John G. Diefenbaker, are to be constructed one after the other in Vancouver by shipbuilding company Seaspan.

All three vessels are desperately needed as technical problems recently forced the navy’s two existing supply ships into early retirement, while the coast guard’s 50-year-old Louis St-Laurent heavy icebreaker was supposed to retire next year.

National Defence and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported last year that the first new supply ship would enter the water in 2020, while the Diefenbaker would arrive in 2021 or 2022.

But the departments’ most recent timetable says construction of the first supply ship won’t be finished until at least 2021, with completion of the Diefenbaker similarly delayed until 2022 or 2023.

When the federal government’s $35-billion national shipbuilding plan, which includes construction of new Arctic patrol vessels and a fleet of warships in Halifax, was first announced in 2010, it was expected the supply ships and icebreaker would all be finished by 2018.

National Defence spokesman Evan Koronewski blamed “challenges associated with completing the detailed design and organizing the entire supply chain” for the delay in the supply ship schedule.

Those challenges were also responsible for pushing back construction of the Diefenbaker, as work on the icebreaker can’t start until the supply ships are finished.

The federal government has already committed millions of dollars in recent years to extend the lives of the current icebreaker fleet.

But the new delays help explain why the coast guard started looking last month at whether it can lease between one and five icebreakers from the private sector for the foreseeable future.

They also mean that the navy will be forced to rely more on allies as well as a converted civilian cargo ship to provide fuel, food and other supplies to Canadian naval ships at sea.

There have been questions over the years about Seaspan’s ability to construct complex military vessels, given that its previous shipbuilding experience has largely revolved around ferries and tugboats.

The company referred questions to the government.

But defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute suggested bad planning is to blame, as government officials were overly optimistic — or wholly unrealistic — about the shipbuilding plan’s various timelines.

“The whole enterprise is very behind schedule,” he said.


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
Donate to Canadian Global Affairs Institute Subscribe
 

SEARCH


 

EVENTS

4th Annual Defence Procurement Conference
October 26th, 2017
Ottawa, Ontario

David Frum - Speaker Series Dinner
November 15th, 2017
Calgary, Alberta

 

IN THE MEDIA


Impasse over intellectual property is tying up warship bids
by Murray Brewster (feat. Dave Perry), CBC News, August 11, 2017

Canada could stand to gain more than lose from redrafted NAFTA: trade expert
by Christopher Guly (feat. Colin Robertson), China.org.cn, August 11, 2017

A nuclear-free North Korea is the goal, however impractical
by Anthony Furey (feat. Marius Grinius), Toronto Sun, August 10, 2017

 

LATEST TWEETS


Donate | Submit | Media Inquiries
Making sense of our complex world. | Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.
 
HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Suite 1600, 530 8th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada  T2P 3S8
 
OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute

8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  K1N 5S6

Phone: (613) 288-2529 
Email: contact@cgai.ca 
Web: cgai.ca
 
2002-2015 Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Charitable Registration No.  87982 7913 RR0001