The Shipbuilding Association of Canada is calling on the Liberal government to proceed with the signing of a contract to acquire a temporary supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy.
Early this month reports began circulating that the Liberals would put on hold plans initiated by the Conservatives in 2014 called Project Resolve wherein a subsidiary of the Chartier Davie Canada shipyard in Levis, Quebec would be tapped to refit a tanker to serve as a temporary transport ship for the Navy.
The association said it was disappointed to learn that Irving Shipbuilding Inc., of Halifax, was urging the Trudeau government to put off the signing of the contract originally awarded to the Chartier Davie.
The stopgap measure involves installing some $700 million worth of upgrade on MV Asterix and leasing the vessel to the Navy until two new Queenston-class joint support ships become operation in 2020 and 2021.
The association also said the $700 million price tag represents “great value-for-money” as a new ship would cost around $1.5 billion.
The group also said Davie has a Canada-based supply chain that “provides significant economic benefits for the entire shipbuilding industry, including Aecon Pictou, a first tier subcontractor that will build multiple sections of the ship in Nova Scotia.”
Chartier Davie is a member of the Shipbuilding Association of Canada. Irving is not a member of the association.
Irving is requesting the government to reconsider its earlier bid to convert a roll-on/roll-off ship into a supply ship for the navy. The company said the ship proposed by Davie will require too much conversion, is risky, very expensive and does not have a large enough interior to accommodate vehicles might be needed for humanitarian operations.
In an interview with CBC, Kevin McCoy, president of Irving, said his makeover work of his shipyard is now completed and that work for its first Arctic ship is underway. The shipyard has plenty of capacity to refit a temporary supply vessel.
The association said it was “disappointed” with the delays in the signing of the Davie Shipyard’s at-sea-support service contract with the government.
It said the Canadian Navy and coastguard fleet renewal was already set back when the Harper government refused to adopt the shipbuilding procurement strategy suggested by Canadian shipbuilders in 2009” to build large ships at large shipyards and small ships at small shipyards and so on.”
“The association strongly recommends that the government does not delay the signing of the contract for this urgent operational requirement. It has been awarded fairly,” according to the association.