Under both Trudeau and Harper, we've had little beyond the usual talk, but still no "Diefenbreaker!"
North Shore News
Canadian Coast Guard may be forced to lease icebreakers as aging fleet increasingly at risk of breakdownsMeanwhile at least the first three CCG vessels are already building at Seaspan--long story, note Davie at end of quote:
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press | November 18, 2016 7:25 AM ET
OTTAWA — The Canadian Coast Guard is looking at ways to deal with a looming shortage of icebreakers as its aging fleet faces a mounting threat of frequent mechanical breakdowns.
The federal government on Thursday asked industry to begin drawing up options for providing icebreaking services, including the potential cost and availability, should they be required, of leasing from private companies.
The request comes days after one of the coast guard’s existing ships was taken out of service for what officials described as an “engineering challenge,” which they predicted will become more common in the coming years.
“Aging ships come with a greater risk of breakdowns and increased requirements for unplanned maintenance,” said Chris Henderson, the coast guard’s director general of national strategies.
“This means we may face potential gaps in icebreaking services over the next five years.”
The coast guard says it may need as many as five extra icebreakers at various times over the next few years as the current fleet goes through repairs and upgrades and a new polar icebreaker is built.
That polar icebreaker, Canadian Coast Guard Ship John G. Diefenbaker, was supposed to be finished next year, at which point the government would retire the 47-year-old CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent.
But a scheduling conflict at the Vancouver shipyard responsible for building the $1.3-billion Diefenbaker means it won’t be ready until the early 2020s and so the St-Laurent is being kept in the water.
The federal government has not started moving to replace any of the coast guard’s other icebreakers, even though nearly all of them are over 30 years old and some are nearly 40.
“We’re dealing with an aging fleet that’s going to need a lot of tender loving care,” Henderson said.
Officials blamed increased demand caused by changing ice conditions and activity in the Arctic for their search for alternative icebreaking services for up to 20 years, and not bad planning.
“I think this is, from the coast guard’s perspective, prudent planning so that we don’t end up in a situation where we don’t have sufficient icebreaking capability,” Henderson said.
“We’re doing exactly what we feel is necessary to find out from industry how they can help fill gaps that were previously unforeseen.”
Officials said they are also looking to lease two tugboats to respond to accidents and other emergencies, as part of the Liberal government’s recent commitment to stronger ocean protection.
Lisa Campbell, who oversees military and marine projects at Public Procurement, said the government would lease the tugboats for about five years.
At the end of that period, it would look at how much they were used and decide whether to keep leasing the vessels or buy new ones.
North Shore News
Shipshape at Seaspan
The first federal government vessels are taking shape in North Vancouver
Under a movable shelter several storeys high at Seaspan Shipyards, the graceful curve of a ship’s bow arcs upwards, dwarfing the hard-hatted workers who stand on the yard below.
Near the bottom of the ship, dark circular tunnels hold bow thrusters that will set below the waterline. Above, workers stand on what will eventually be one deck level of the Sir John Franklin, the first of three Coast Guard offshore fisheries science vessels under construction at Seaspan in North Vancouver.
Soon, “Big Blue,” Seaspan’s massive $18-million gantry crane, will hoist another massive piece of the ship on top of this one to be fit together, like a giant piece of Lego.
A similar assembly process is underway nearby for the stern of the ship, where a worker on a scissor lift grinds a seam that will join two huge sections of the ship together.
Brian Carter, Seaspan’s president of shipyards, stands below the very back of the vessel, pointing out where the rudder will eventually sit, and where rounded edges will accommodate a fisheries net that will be used to do assessments of fish stocks.
Tracking how the pieces of the ship – known as “blocks” – come together here is one of the crucial markers of how work on the first of the federal vessels built under the National Shipbuilding Strategy is going...
The process hasn’t been without its challenges.
The contract to build the first three fisheries vessels – budgeted at $687 million including operational servicing of the ships and including up to $514 million for construction – came in almost three times the original budget of $244 million. But the original budget figure, set in 2007 and never updated, didn’t contain provision for inflation, project management, engineering, design or contingency costs.
Seaspan cut the steel for the first fisheries vessel in June 2015, at a milestone marked with celebratory political speeches.
Since then, there’s been a learning curve as construction of the first ship has progressed. That’s not unexpected, says Carter...
The first ship is expected to be in the water by June 2017 and delivered to the government by the fall of 2017. Construction of the second fisheries vessel started this year at the end of March and is expected to be ready six months after the first ship is delivered ...
Work on a third offshore fisheries vessel is expected to begin later this month. Under the new system, up to four vessels can be built at the yard at one time, says Carter...
Following the fisheries ships, Seaspan is scheduled to begin work on a larger oceanographic science ship. An engineering contract for that has been signed and contracts worth more than $65 million to source parts requiring a long lead time, like propulsion systems, for both the science and joint support ships were signed in March of this year.
A construction contract for the oceanographic vessel – originally targeted for this year – is now expected in 2017, as is the contract to build the joint support ships.
Likely the biggest political issue for the shipbuilding strategy, however, concerns the project budgets...
Shipyards like Davie in Quebec have repeatedly suggested that in order to meet its deadlines, Ottawa should parcel out more of the work to other companies. Earlier this year, Davie raised eyebrows by submitting an unsolicited bid on some of the work already awarded to Seaspan under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
Top brass at Seaspan say that isn’t phasing them, adding they’ve received good support from the new Liberal government in Ottawa...