Seaspan will build 10 vessels as part of a new $3.3 billion contract with the Canadian Coast Guard. This is in addition to its previously confirmed $8 billion contract for 7 non-combat vessels for both the Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard.
The announcement made earlier this morning came as a surprise to the Vancouver shipbuilding industry and will mean up to 17 vessels, including 7 ships from the first contract confirmed in April, with a combined price tag of $11.3 billion will be built at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards in North Vancouver.
Federal minister of government public works and services Diane Finley was on hand at Vancouver Shipyards for the announcement. “The decision supports the long-term benefits of the Government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy in creating a sustainable shipbuilding industry once again here in Canada,” said Minister Finley.
“The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is a key priority of the Harper Government as we create jobs and generate significant economic benefits in shipbuilding and other industries all across Canada,” added Minister Finley. “Today’s announcement illustrates our commitment to eliminating boom and bust cycles, while providing best value for taxpayers, and ensuring affordable and timely delivery of ships.”
This significant investment will enable the Coast Guard to acquire up to five medium endurance multi-tasked vessels and up to five offshore patrol vessels.
“This is yet another example of the unprecedented investment our Government has made in the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canadian shipbuilding industry,” said the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. “Our Government is committed to providing the men and women of the Coast Guard with the equipment they need to do the important work we ask of them.”
This investment is in addition to the already announced Vancouver Shipyards construction of three offshore fisheries science vessels, one offshore oceanographic science vessel, two joint naval resupply support ships and Canada’s first arctic icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. It is expected 4,000 jobs will be created from the first Vancouver contract alone, and depending on their skills the workers will earn anywhere between $40,000 to $120,000.
The designs of Vancouver’s first ships are in the process of being finalized. Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards began a major $200 million overhaul last year to create the state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure necessary to build the large order. The new infrastructure built for the federal contract could also mean the shipyards will have the infrastructure and experience necessary to competitively attract future private shipbuilding contracts including new B.C. Ferries vessels.
Construction of the shipyard’s first federal vessel, either a naval resupply ship or Coast Guard heavy icebreaker, is expected to begin in 2017. Currently, Vancouver Shipyards only possesses the capacity to build one ship at any given time, meaning the completion of the 7 vessels from the first contract alone is still more than a decade away.
“The Government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy has played a key role in revitalizing British Columbia’s shipbuilding industry, creating thousands of long-term, skilled jobs,” said Minister Moore. “Today’s announcement will ensure that the job creation is sustained, and that British Columbia continues to be a leader in Canadian shipbuilding.”
The NSPS project now totals $38.3 billion including $25 billion for new frigates, destroyers and armed Arctic patrol vessels built in Halifax. Replacing some vessels as old as 50 years, the NSPS’ new ships will bring a much-needed revitalization of the vital equipment used by the men and women in the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard while also bringing long-term jobs and economic growth for the shipbuilding industries at Vancouver and Halifax.