High risk that new navy supply ships won't get built: documents
Published Tuesday, June 23, 2015 1:41PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 23, 2015 10:02PM EDT
Federal documents obtained by CTV News show a high risk that two permanent Navy supply vessels will never get built in Vancouver, as Defence Minister Jason Kenney gave an update Tuesday on a stop-gap measure.
Jason Kenney said the government is moving ahead with talks to retrofit a commercial ship at Davie Shipyard near Quebec City, until two permanent supply vessels are brought into service.
"This is good news for (Davie workers) because it's an indication of the intention of the government to sign a potential contract with the Davie Shipyard," Kenney said.
He said the government is only looking at a contract with the Davie Shipyard for now, skipping an open call for tenders, but warned that it’s still in discussion.
NDP defence critic Jack Harris blasted the decision to bypass the usual bidding process, calling it a “blatant political activities with the public dollars.” The Quebec City region is one of the few places where the Conservatives have any seats in Quebec.
Kenney, however, defended the choice to “accelerate this process” by saying that, although a number of companies had expressed interest, “it was the view of the cabinet that this is a gap in our navy’s capabilities right now and we have to move quickly.”
The stop-gap ships have been on the radar ever since both of the Royal Canadian Navy’s supply ships, HMCS Preserver and HMCS Protecteur, were retired in November.
Federal documents note, however, highlight problems with plans to build two permanent supply ships in Vancouver – although Kenney said they should be in service by 2021.
The documents describe “a risk that appropriate facilities, expertise and qualified labour force may not be available,” and “a risk the JSS design and its two ship production work in Vancouver could prove unaffordable.”
“This would necessitate significant redesign … or necessitate requesting additional project funding,” according to the documents.
David Perry, a senior analyst with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said the $2-billion earmarked for the project “has been tight at best and could potentially be insufficient.”
Liberal MP Joyce Murray, meanwhile, called it “pure bungling on the part of the Conservative government of yet another military procurement.”
With a report from CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife and files from The Canadian Press