Seaspan Delivers Canadian Coast Guard's First New Ship in Decades

Image courtesy Seaspan

By The Maritime Executive 06-28-2019 06:42:26

On Thursday, Seaspan Shipyards celebrated the handover of the first Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel (OFSV), the CCGS Sir John Franklin, to the Canadian Coast Guard (Coast Guard). The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard attended the ceremony, along with senior officials from the Coast Guard, Seaspan and supply chain partners.

It is the Canadian Coast Guard's first newly built vessel in three decades and the first large vessel to be built and delivered under Canada's National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). The second hull in the OFSV series, the future CCGS Capt. Jacques Cartier, was launched on June 5. The Cartier is now undergoing systems commissioning in advance of the commencement of sea trials this fall. OFSV 3, the future CCGS John Cabot, will be structurally complete by the end of summer 2019. 

The Seaspan-built OFSVs are among the most complex ships of their type. They feature high-tech fishing trawls, laboratories and a deployable drop keel. The vessels will serve as a platform for Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists on government missions to monitor the health of fish stocks, better understand the impacts of climate change and support oceans research. 

The OFSVs are Seaspan's first large vessels under construction in many years: as a shipowner, the company often sources its own tugs and ferries from overseas yards. Canada's cabotage laws permit foreign-built, Canadian-crewed vessels on domestic voyages. (Seaspan Corp., a publicly-listed container ship owner with vessels on deep sea routes, is a separate and unrelated entity.) 

Under the Government of Canada’s NSS, Seaspan has created or supported about 1,000 jobs, invested over $200 million (CAD) to upgrade its shipyard and issued over $930 million (CAD) in contracts to 630 Canadian companies, the majority based in British Columbia. Seaspan's total orderbook under the NSS comes to about $8 billion, including the OFSV, 16 multipurpose vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard and two fleet auxiliaries for the Royal Canadian Navy. Nova Scotia-based shipyard Irving Shipbuilding has the contract for the navy's new surface combatants.

Last month, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau canceled Seaspan's contract for one heavy icebreaker, with Minister Wilkinson saying that his agency is "exploring other options to ensure [it] is built in the most efficient manner." Quebec-based competitor Chantier Davie, which vigorously contested its early exclusion from the National Shipbuilding Strategy, is widely expected to apply for eligibility and the right to build the icebreaker. The Liberal government said in May that it has opened a third spot for an additional "undesignated" yard in the NSS program.