The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, representing Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Bill Blair, and joined by Rear-Admiral Steve Waddell, Deputy Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, recently marked a significant milestone during the keel-laying ceremony for the second Joint Support Ship (JSS), the future HMCS Preserver.

“Today we mark an important milestone in the construction of our new Joint Support Ships. These modern and effective new support ships will be an invaluable resource over the next 30 years and will create jobs in the local shipbuilding industry for decades to come. This critical investment ensures that the Royal Canadian Navy and its sailors have the modern equipment they need to continue to serve Canada,“ expressed the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence.

The keel-laying ceremony, a time-honored tradition in ship construction, involves placing a newly minted coin near the ship’s keel. This keel, a foundational element that runs the length of the vessel, saw coins laid by employee representatives from the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Seaspan Shipyards. These coins, believed to bring good luck to shipbuilders and future sailors, will remain in place throughout the ship’s lifespan.

Coins from the keel laying ceremony for the future HMCS Preserver. Image source:

“Today marks an important milestone in the work Seaspan has been doing under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. This facility plays a vital role in Canada’s shipbuilding industry, in supporting the Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard and is an integral part of both North Vancouver’s maritime heritage and our present local economy. The construction of two Joint Support Ships will create good jobs and help increase the endurance and capability of the Royal Canadian Navy,” remarked the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.

In May 2022, construction of the second JSS began, with nearly half of the ship’s structural components in various stages of construction or completion. Upon completion, this ship will claim the distinction of being one of the longest ships ever built in Canada.

The Joint Support Ship project is not just a feat of engineering but also a significant contributor to the Canadian economy. The construction of these vessels is poised to create and sustain 3,150 high-quality, skilled jobs annually, benefitting both the local community and the nation’s economy.

“Today’s keel-laying ceremony celebrates another key milestone in our government’s commitment to providing the Royal Canadian Navy with modern ships to do their important work.  Thanks to this investment, we will support high-value jobs across Canada’s marine industry and the broader marine supply chain across Canada, while delivering economic benefits to Canadians,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation Science and Industry.

As part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, Canada’s acquisition of two JSS vessels is a crucial step in replacing the aging Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) vessels of the Canadian Armed Forces. The JSS’s capabilities are essential to the Royal Canadian Navy, offering replenishment capabilities, increased sealift capacity, and support for onshore operations. These multi-purpose Protecteur-class warships will seamlessly integrate into Canadian and allied naval task groups, extending the range and endurance of these task groups by supplying fuel, ammunition, provisions, spare parts, aviation support, and medical and dental care.

Seaspan Shipyards. Image source:

“Today’s keel-laying ceremony is a significant milestone in a ship’s development and marks the beginning of construction of the future HMCS Preserver.  This is yet another step forward on the path to building our Navy,” Rear Admiral Steve Waddell, Deputy Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. “It’s truly exciting to see the incredible progress being made, and the exceptional teamwork and dedication of everyone involved in the construction and ultimate delivery to our fleet.”

Underpinning these efforts is Canada’s defense policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, which aims to provide a modern and versatile fleet to support maritime operations both at home and abroad. This investment will not only revitalize the marine industry but also generate well-paying jobs for the middle class and spread economic benefits across the nation.

“Today, Seaspan Shipyards has taken another critical step towards providing the Royal Canadian Navy with the ships they need to go into harm’s way and ensure Canada’s security and sovereignty in an increasingly unstable geopolitical environment. Through investments in technology, process improvements, and skills upgrading, and by rigorously applying lessons learned from earlier ships we have built, Seaspan is on course to deliver ships faster and for lower cost to Canada,” offered John McCarthy, CEO, Seaspan Shipyards.