The Royal Canadian Navy is investigating the possibility of hiring outside companies to provide tugboat services in order to cut cost.

The navy is retiring some of its tugboats but is not necessarily looking to replace them with vessels built in Canada. Instead is calling on companies to submit the “business case” for providing tugboat service at the HMC Dockyard in Halifax and CFB Esquimalt in British Columbia.


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Public Services and Procurement Canada said there are no requirements for tugboats to be built in Canada. Neither is there any requirement for companies supplying the tug service to be Canadian, according to reports.

Some industry insiders are apprehensive that this move might undercut local shipping companies.

The government is requesting the business case in order to assess the impact of using an alternative way of delivering tug services, according to a recent report by the CBC. The government wants to find out the cost of obtaining tug and fire boat services from “the commercial market.”

The business case if for vessels no older than five years and with 4,000 horsepower. The tugboats in service were built back in 1970 and have only half that horsepower.

The contracts could run for 25 years.

The request for business case closes on January 25.

Under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) introduced by the Conservative government, small Canadian shipyards were supposed to build these smaller support vessels. This way naval contracts could be spread throughout the local shipbuilding industry as larger shipyards like Irving and Seaspan have already secured the larger portion of shipbuilding contracts.