Davie Shipbuilding Questions Government Over Second Supply Ship


Published Jan 28, 2019 6:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

Canada's Davie Shipbuilding has issued a statement calling on the government to make “decisions based on facts and evidence” in relation to the Royal Canadian Navy's temporary supply ships.

The government awarded Davie Shipbuilding a $700 million contract to convert a container ship into a temporary supply vessel and lease it to the navy for at least five years. The ship, Asterix, was formally accepted by the Department of National Defence in January 2018.

Davie has offered to convert and lease another ship for $500 million, but last Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told an audience in Quebec City that the Canadian Armed Forces did an assessment and concluded that there was no need for the second supply ship, Obelix, proposed by Davie Shipbuilding.

Seaspan Shipyards started construction on the first Joint Support Ship, as the permanent supply vessels are known, in June 2018, and Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd has also indicated that he is comfortable with one interim support ship given that the latest schedule calls for the first Joint Support Ship to be delivered in 2022-23. 

Davie Shipbuilding's statement says that, based on media reports, Trudeau's assessment was conducted in 2014, when the delivery date for the Joint Support Ships was still 2019. The statement notes that on May 30, 2018, the Acting Vice Chief of Defence Staff told a Parliamentary Committee, "We never really looked at the need for or validated the need for a second interim AOR [auxiliary oiler replenishment ship]." 

Additionally, the requirement for a second supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy was studied by both the Senate and House of Commons permanent defence committees in 2017, and both committees unanimously concluded that Canada should procure a second interim supply ship from Davie to meet the operational requirements of the navy.

“Given the statement from the Acting Vice Chief of Defence Staff, two parliamentary reports and documents provided by the Department of National Defence which confirm that the Joint Supply Ships will not achieve full operational capabilities until 2025, there clearly remains a need for Obelix,” says the Davie statement.

The yard calls on the Prime Minister to conduct an independent third-party analysis of the utilization rate of Asterix and the exact time the Joint Support Ships will be delivered from the Vancouver shipyard will achieve Full Operational Capability. This analysis should be concluded in an expedited timeframe (30 days) so that we can get on with providing the women and men of the Royal Canadian Navy the equipment it needs to carry out the job the government asks them to do, both in Canada and abroad.”