Two New Polar Icebreakers To Enhance Our Arctic Presence & Provide Vital Services

Construction of these ships will generate 300 jobs per vessel at the shipyards, and 2,500 jobs across the marine supply chain. Pic: Canadian Coast Guard

Ottawa: Canada has three oceans and the longest coastline in the world. Our nation’s blue economy depends on a strong Coast Guard fleet to keep mariners safe, protect our coasts and waterways, and deliver commercial goods and other vital services to Canadians.

The recent growth in commercial shipping, the serious impacts of climate change, and increased maritime activity in the Arctic have all highlighted Canada’s need for a renewed Coast Guard fleet.

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Bernadette Jordan, joined by the Quebec Lieutenant and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Pablo Rodriguez, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change the Jonathan Wilkinson, have announced that the Government of Canada will move forward with the construction of two Polar icebreakers under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

Both new Polar icebreakers will have capacity and ability beyond that of Canada’s current largest icebreaker, the CCGS Louis S. StLaurent, and will both be built by Canadian shipyards.

Early estimates are that the construction of these ships will generate approximately 300 jobs per vessel at the shipyards, and 2,500 jobs across the marine supply chain.

The construction of these new ships is in addition to the $17.49 billion in contracts already awarded to shipyards large and small across Canada under the NSS that have resulted in the revitalization of Canada’s shipbuilding industry, and the creation of thousands of jobs already.

Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver, British Columbia, which has proven its shipbuilding capability with the completion of the first class of large vessels under the NSS, will build one of the Polar icebreakers.

The other Polar icebreaker will be built by Davie Shipbuilding of Lévis, Quebec, pending the successful completion of the ongoing selection process as the third strategic partner for large ships construction under the NSS. Both shipyards are expected to be supported by many small and medium-sized Canadian businesses across the country, ensuring that the construction of these ships will be a historic, cross-country effort to help drive Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

First Delivery by 2030
This procurement approach will ensure at least one polar icebreaker is delivered by 2030 when the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is expected to retire from service. Precise timing of icebreaker delivery will be determined once shipyard agreements are in place.

With their enhanced capabilities, these larger, more powerful Polar icebreakers will enable the Coast Guard to conduct yearround operations in Canada’s Arctic. Their greater endurance will ensure they can operate at higher latitudes for longer periods, and will allow the fleet to better support Indigenous Peoples and northerners, strengthen Arctic sovereignty, advance high Arctic science, and better respond to maritime emergencies.

Today’s announcement represents a large step forward in ensuring the Canadian Coast Guard has the equipment it needs. It will also have a lasting impact on Canadian marine industry, its workers and their suppliers. Through their construction and service, the Polar icebreakers will contribute to growing Canada’s blue economy and create more opportunities in our coastal communities.

They will strengthen our Coast Guard for the long-term, and ensure that maritime services and science platforms are available year-round in Arctic waters. Bernadette Jordan said: “The new Polar icebreakers will be a game-changer for Canada’s marine industry–both in their construction and the difference that a stronger presence in the Arctic will make. Built by Canadian shipyards, these vessels will enable the coast guard to conduct critical science, supply and other missions in our Arctic region year-round. Under the National Ship Building Strategy, we’re putting thousands of Canadians to work building a fleet that will serve those communities for decades.”

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said: “We are positioning Canada for the future by making investments today to build a more competitive economy. This includes investments to support the domestic construction of two new Polar icebreakers. The Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy will apply to these investments to strengthen Canada‘s shipbuilding industry and create good quality jobs for Canadians across the country.”

Pablo Rodriguez, Quebec Lieutenant and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, added: “The know-how and expertise of shipyard workers in the Quebec City area is well established. By planning the order for a polar icebreaker, we confirm our confidence in them and support hundreds of jobs on site and throughout the supply chain in our regions.”

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