More on supply ships

It’s no secret, I hope, that I remain in favour of Project Resolve, the deal which delivered the MV Asterix to the Canadian Navy on time and on budget, and I have said before that I believe that our Navy needs four of these large supply/support ships, including a second ship, a sister to Asterix, which Davie is ready to convert.

David Pugliese, writing in the National Post, now says that Chantier Davie, the giant Quebec City shipyard, “is offering the Liberal government a second supply ship at a reduced price as it warns about further delays on a similar vessel being built for the Royal Canadian Navy by a firm on the West Coast … [but, he notes] … industry representatives privately say Davie faces an uphill battle as Asterix is at the heart of the trial of Vice Admiral Mark Norman and any government move to buy a sister ship would signal the actions of that naval officer in supporting the original deal was right.

He also reports that “Naresh Raghubeer, a senior adviser to Davie, said the Asterix sister ship — Obelix — can be ready for missions with the navy within 24 months. “We’ve proven already we can do it,” he added.

Of course Davie can do the job; they were, for many, many years, a really badly managed company and that’s why there were left off the short list when the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy was conceived … but new, foreign ownership set things right and now they are producing good ships; made-in-Canada ships that Canada needs.

But I agree that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not be enticed; he doesn’t even mind layoffs in a Conservative riding … maybe, he hopes the workers will think, to themselves, “maybe if we change our votes then we can also get our jobs back.”

Mr Pugliese also reports that the first of the two big, fully military support ships being built on the West Coast “was supposed to be delivered by Seaspan in 2017. That schedule slipped and the 2019 and 2020 delivery dates were proposed. The latest delivery date for the first of two ships is now 2022-2023 but with the caveat attached “ with risk”, meaning that it could fall further behind schedule, government officials confirmed to Postmedia.” That will not matter to Team Trudeau, either.

Davie Pugliese concludes by writing that “The Davie yard represents 50 per cent of Canada’s shipbuilding capability. Currently the firm has 200 employees, down from the 1,400 working in 2017 when Asterix was delivered … [and]  … Both the Commons defence committee and the Senate defence committee recommended acquiring a second supply ship from Davie … [but] … Davie’s rival, Irving Shipbuilding, has voiced opposition to the Quebec company receiving any additional federal shipbuilding contracts.

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

6 thoughts on “More on supply ships

    1. I would think that medical facilities are a handy thing to have as well for disaster relief Canada wants to be on the world stage fine, fire, flood, earth quake what ever we’ll win more hearts and minds with health care, food and water than with troops. It wouldn’t have to be a major hospital ship but some thing useful for disasters.

  1. It has been a significant number of years since Canada had three solvent and functioning shipyards capable of building larger ships. This situation has led to public posturing / competition for market share. Any successful business model will tell you that the ultimate goal is to eliminate the competition, thus giving the surviving business more control over pricing. Normally this is accomplished by the surviving business having offerred a better, or similar product, at a more competitive price. Unfortunately this does not apply to Canadian Military procurement. For military procurement it is not about the pricing it is all about the politics.

    If the ships are being constructed in Canada is a job on the East (West) Coast more valuable than a job in Quebec. If you are a politician you will assign more value to the job in an area that keeps you in power. As Canadians would we not assign an equal value for a comparable job in any area of the country. As a country are we better off with two, or ultimately one, shipyard for all military procurement or the three world class shipyards that we currently have.

    Although construction scheduling will always be an issue there is potentially a significant amount of Canadian shipbuilding required over the next decade. If politicians could put regional aspirations aside there are endless opportunities in shipbuilding that will benefit our country overall. At this point in time healthy competition has created some very competitive pricing for ships that Canada could use.

    Project Resolve. A second supply ship at Boxing Day pricing. The Navy has always claimed that two active supply ships was an absolute minimum. What has transpired to change that requirement. Considering how versatile these ships are I would think that a minimum would be two active supply ships, one in reserve / training, and one in maintenance.

    Project Resolute. Acquiring the three (used) medium ice breakers was a timely move. The Canadian ice breaking fleet is well past the best before date. It is rare that you can acquire and mobilize three ships in such a short time frame. These used ships may not have everything that the Coast Guard desires, but the price was right. It is certainly an improvement over the perfect ship that never gets past the design phase. The original proposal also included a used heavy icebreaker which was not acquired. I understand that we are constructing a new heavy icebreaker at some point in the next decade. With the area of Arctic that Canada claims surely our needs are for more than one heavy ice breaker. China is currently constructing their third heavy icebreaker. China has not yet claimed any Arctic, but they have sent one of their heavy icebreakers in to an area of the Arctic that Canada claims.

  2. How do you come to the conclusion the requirement is for four ships (support ships, not just supply, as replenishment oilers like ASTERIX provide services in addition to supplies)? I agree with your assessment but am interested in your thinking.

  3. I was using the Navy’s stated requirement from the 1990s, when I was still serving, and it was repeated in the 2000s. They were told that three was enough … and it is, always, the government’s right and duty to make that call. But I think the case for four is solid and I am certain that it represents the Navy’s best professional judgement. The political requirement, now, is for just one.

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