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Naval strategy: a first official, but modest, contract for Chantier Davie

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar26,2024

The cost and construction timelines of the icebreakers promised by the federal government remain unknown to this day.

Naval strategy: a first official, but modest, contract for Chantier Davie

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Program icebreakers aim to replace aging ships like the CCGS Amundsen. (Archive photo)

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The Davie shipyard finally obtains its first official contract since its integration into Canada's National Shipbuilding Strategy a year ago. Worth $19 million, the agreement provides for “initial work” on the design of the six medium-sized icebreakers promised by Ottawa, which must then be built in the Levisian slipways.

The awarding of the contract will be confirmed this Tuesday by Quebec MP Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Public Services and Procurement of Canada, as part of the Canadian Symposium on Naval Maintenance, held in Brossard. Chantier Davie will undertake the initial work on the design of the new program icebreakers, confirms Mr. Duclos' office to Radio-Canada.

This first contract, however, does not represent the panacea expected for Chantier Davie and its approximately 1,000 suppliers. The contract should make it possible to create and maintain approximately 35 jobs per year, indicates the federal government.

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Davie's entry into the Naval Strategy confirmed that the shipyard meets the technical requirements to build ships for the Canadian fleet. (File photo)

However, according to a study by the firm Deloitte, unveiled in the fall of 2022, the economic benefits of Chantier Davie are projected at $21 billion by 2040. This same study maintains that the construction site could allow the maintenance or the creation of 4,700 jobs during this period.

This assessment is however conditional on the contracts promised by Ottawa.

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As planned after the pre-qualification of the site in 2019, the federal government added Chantie Davie to the shipbuilding strategy last April, alongside Irving and Seaspan, in order to meet the renewal needs of the fleet of the Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard.

In Lévis, the objective is to build six medium-sized icebreakers and one polar-class icebreaker. Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cited the sum of $8.5 billion for the seven ships, while other estimates put the prize pool at more than $10 billion for Chantier Davie.

In its announcement on Tuesday, Mr. Duclos' office does not yet specify costs or a precise schedule, even for the six ships whose design will begin soon. The construction schedule will be clarified as the Government of Canada and Chantier Davie progress through the different phases of construction preparation, the federal government was told.

These crucial elements are still under negotiation, according to our information.

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Six program icebreakers must be built at Chantier Davie, under Canada's National Shipbuilding Strategy.

One ​​thing is certain, the six are breaking -program icebreakers, planned to be similar to each other, are to take over from aging Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) vessels used for icebreaking. Several of the vessels currently in service are on track to reach the end of their useful lives within the next 15 years.

The new program icebreakers will replace CCG icebreakers serving the waterways of Atlantic Canada and the St. Lawrence River during the winter , as well as the Arctic during the summer, adds the federal government in its announcement.

These program icebreakers will provide icebreaking services, escort vessels in ice-covered waters and clear ice from ports and docks, which is essential for commercial fisheries.

Source: Chantier Davie

Before launching the construction of icebreakers, Chantier Davie must complete the modernization of its infrastructure in the Lauzon sector. Investments of $840 million were already announced last year. Of the amount, $519 million comes from the provincial government.

Quebec also lent $67 million to help Chantier Davie acquire Helsinki Shipyard Oy, last fall. The Finnish company has 400 employees and has removed almost 60% of the world's icebreaker fleet.

Since 2015, the federal government has invested $2.2 billion in contracts at Davie without it being part of the Naval Strategy for, among other things, the reconversion of icebreakers purchased abroad and the modernization of frigates. /p>

Davie also obtained, in 2019, contracts to build the federal ferries of the Magdalen Islands and Nova Scotia.

In addition to the six icebreakers in the program, Chantier Davie was also promised the construction of the second polar icebreaker in the Canadian fleet, alongside the John F. Diefenbaker. p>

The latter is being built on the other side of the country, at the Seaspan shipyard in Vancouver. A long-time competitor to Chantier Davie, the company unveiled an important milestone last month.

The Seaspan shipyard has built a prototype block to test the new processes and tools needed to work with the ship's special steel, the Canadian Coast Guard announced in February.

This block must guarantee the coast guard a state-of-the-art vessel, capable of navigating the most inhospitable Arctic latitudes. The construction of the prototype block focuses on potential challenges that may be encountered when building using thicker steel.

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Vancouver-based Seaspan Group is currently developing the first polar icebreaker. (Archive photo)

Chantier Davie should in theory benefit from the innovations made at Seaspan, if Ottawa grants it the construction of the second as planned. According to the Federal Ministry, the general lessons learned from this process will be used throughout the new polar icebreaker program.

The Canadian Coast Guard owns the intellectual property rights to the basic design of the polar icebreaker. This intellectual property will serve as the basis for the construction of the two vessels, indicates Fisheries and Oceans Canada. that of Davie, by 2030. Chantier Davie, for its part, still has no indication of when it will obtain the construction contract for its polar icebreaker.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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