Canadian naval contract covers new Arctic vessels

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An $800-million federal contract will take care of maintenance for six new ice-capable Canadian navy ships. Right now, Kingston-class vessels do most military work in Arctic waters, because of an ice girdle around the front of their hulls that classify the ships as “ice strengthened.” One such ship, the HMCS Shawinigan, is seen here during the CAF's Operation Nanook in 2014. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)
An $800-million federal contract will take care of maintenance for six new ice-capable Canadian navy ships. Right now, Kingston-class vessels do most military work in Arctic waters, because of an ice girdle around the front of their hulls that classify the ships as “ice strengthened.” One such ship, the HMCS Shawinigan, is seen here during the CAF’s Operation Nanook in 2014. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)

An $800-million federal contract awarded Aug. 17 will fund repairs, upkeep and operational support for new ships being built for the Canadian Navy—and among them are ships that will sail in northern waters.

The contract will cover up to six Arctic and offshore patrol vessels now under construction in Halifax.

These new northern ships will have more icebreaking capacity than current navy ships used for northern military exercises.

And they will also have more space to carry supplies, smaller vessels and vehicles needed for working in Arctic inlets and travelling on the tundra. The first ship is scheduled to be finished in 2018.

The support contract also includes future service needed for two non-combatant joint support ships being built on the west coast.

The ships will deliver fuel and ammunition, and act as a maintenance and medical station for other deployed military.

The service contract, which will take care of the two types of vessels once they are built, was awarded jointly to Thales Canada Inc. and Thales Australia Ltd., which are subsidiaries of a French multinational company of the same name.

The eight-year contract includes the option to extend service work for up to 35 years, which would work out to about $5.2 billion over the life span of the vessels.

Over that 35 years, the contract will create as many as 2,000 jobs in Canada, the release said.

And, resulting training will bring new expertise into the Canadian marine industry. Contract work for the Arctic and offshore patrol ships will be done in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

“The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships and Joint Support Ships are essential to our fleet. They will deliver the capabilities that the Navy needs to meet defence and security challenges we face, both at home and abroad, and carry out the tasks required of a modern navy,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in the release.