A little over a year ago I commented on a report that said that ““a pair of unsolicited bids [were] dropped on the government by Quebec-based Chantier Davie Canada Inc., which was left out of the government’s strategy … [and] … The shipyard’s pitch — potentially worth up to $1.7 billion — was to either sell or lease icebreakers and multipurpose ships for the coast guard … [specifically] … It offered to build three smaller so-called River-class icebreakers, two multipurpose ships and a Polar Class icebreaker, which could be used for scientific research, border patrol and search and rescue. Some of the ships were being built for the offshore oil and gas sector, but the collapse in energy prices led to their cancellation.”“
Now, according to a report by Lee Berthiaume in the Canadian Press, “The federal government will launch negotiations Friday for the lease of four icebreakers from Davie, the Quebec shipyard at the centre of the RCMP’s investigation against suspended Vice-Admiral Mark Norman … [and] … The surprise move follows growing concerns about the coast guard’s aging icebreaker fleet, which were highlighted earlier this month when mechanical problems kept the service from helping a ferry trapped in the St. Lawrence River … [and, further] … It also comes after strong pressure from the Quebec government for Ottawa to give Davie more federal work. The company recently laid off 800 workers after converting a civilian ship into a new interim resupply vessel for the navy.“
Over in Army.ca, a usually well-informed member explains that “It sounds like the GoC is finally waking up to the “Project Resolute” offer of Davie made two years ago …
http://www.davie.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/icebreaker-briefing-RESOLUTE-1.pdf … The four icebreakers they own and were offered on loan appear to be the same four, already available to Davie … [but] … This will not be as much work as Project Resolve because the Coast guard is a merchant marine service and their needs are not as specialized. Therefore fewer modifications will be necessary here, coupled with a thorough “mid-life” refit, to provide the Coast guard with three badly needed river ice breakers to supplement or replace the type 1200 ice breakers which are already 35+ years old and one Arctic icebreaker to supplement or replace the ancient Louis St-Laurent, which is falling apart … [and] … By the time Seaspan would have completed the Diefenbaker, the river icebreakers would have been 50 to 55 years old … [but] … At least, now there is an intermediate offering that can rejuvenate the CG fleet of icebreakers while still making their own replacement in the hands of Seaspan should this be the will of the government after the Dief’ is completed.“
This is good news on a number of fronts, especially because it firmly contradicts the wholly inappropriate statement by Irving CEO and retired US Navy admiral Kevin McCoy who usurped the government’s role and ““made clear … that rival Davie Shipyards in Quebec would not be receiving any work on the various projects.”“
It is also good news because it keeps Canada’s biggest yard working and it rewards good, innovative management. I well recall when Davie was regarded by my (then serving) Navy colleagues as a technical and financial black hole into which the Government of Canada poured money just because it was in Quebec and Pierre Trudeau’s bastardization of the concept fiscal federalism meant the government contracting involved nothing more than bribing Quebecers to stay in Canada because he (Trudeau) could not make any other case for staying because he, himself, neither understood nor was he enamoured with Canada “hors de Québec.”
I’m not a shill for Chantier Davie, I have no connections of any kind with the company … but I like Project Resolve, which, I believe, solved a real, military operational problem in a timely, innovative and cost-effective way, and I think good, innovative management should be rewarded with even more challenges.
So, well done Team Trudeau for repudiating Irving‘s trespass into policymaking and for solving the near to mid-term ice-breaker dilemma.
P.S. Just as I am not pro-Davie, I’m not (unlike some serving RCN people) anti-Irving, either; I just found Admiral (ret’d) McCoy overstepped … the decision re who gets or does not get government contracts must be, finally, recommended by an apolitical civil service and signed off by elected ministers ~ the decisions are neither made nor should they be announced by Irving Shipbuilding‘s CEO.