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Davie Named Third Shipyard in Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy

Davie Canada shipbuilding
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing that Davie would be added to the shipbuilding program (Davie)

Published Apr 4, 2023 4:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Canada officially added Davie to its National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) as the third shipyard designated to participate in the effort to renew and expand the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy. The shipyard based in Quebec reports that the agreement will provide a minimum of 20 years of work with a minimum of C$8.5 billion (US$6.3 billion) in work. 

“Today’s announcement is an important step in the government’s ongoing efforts to ensure that Canada has the modern and reliable ships it needs, especially as we adapt to the continued growth of commercial shipping and the increasing impacts of climate change on our communities,” the Prime Minister’s office said in the official announcement. “We will continue to create opportunities for workers and businesses in Canada’s marine industry while ensuring the brave members of the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy can continue to carry out their important work in the years to come.”

The designation as the third strategic partner is the first step for Davie to begin formal negotiations with the Canadian government for contracts under the shipbuilding initiative. The federal government announced in 2019 that it would seek to add a shipyard in addition to Seaspan Shipyards in British Columbia and Irving Shipbuilding in Nova Scotia to the long-term plan. 

The initial phase of the program called for the construction of six icebreakers and one polar icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard as part of a plan that provides for the renewal of up to 18 new large ships built in Canadian shipyards. In 2019, the federal government said it planned to devote at least C$15.7 billion in funding to the shipbuilding program.

Speaking during a ceremony at the Davie shipyard, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “Today’s announcement is bringing us one step closer to building the fleets for Canada’s future. Our strategic partnership with Chantier Davie will help ensure our Coast Guard is supported by modern, made-in-Canada vessels so it can continue to save lives, keep our waters secure, and protect the environment.”

The addition of Davie to the program comes after a multi-step qualification process. The government ran a competition requesting submissions and conducted third-party assessments of the shipyard’s infrastructure. The government calculates that Davie has already received over C$2.2 billion in contracts over the past decade, including the conversion of three medium interim icebreakers for the Coast Guard, refits for the Coast Guard and Navy, and currently the design and construction of two ferries for Transport Canada.

“This historic agreement puts the ‘National’ in National Shipbuilding Strategy and the federal government deserves much credit. Together, we will bridge a strategic shipbuilding gap and create guaranteed capacity for future fleet renewal at Canada’s largest shipbuilder,” said James Davies, President and CEO of Davie. “We can now get to work delivering the icebreakers Canada urgently needs to meet its growing responsibilities as an international Arctic presence, while fulfilling its critical southern wintertime mission to keep our economy flowing.”

Davie had already been pre-qualified as it was moving through the certification process and in May 2021 the federal government announced plans for a second polar icebreaker. Construction of the second ship was reportedly earmarked for Davie pending completion of the process. Seaspan had previously been awarded the contract for the first polar icebreaker.

The Canadian government estimates that it was awarded more than C$21 billion in shipbuilding-related contracts since 2012. Contracts awarded under the NSS are estimated to contribute on average nearly $2 billion annually to Canada’s GDP.