New shipbuilding delay leaves Canada reliant on allies, civilian ship to supply navy
The Royal Canadian Navy will need to wait an extra two years for the delivery of new support ships, the federal government said Thursday, meaning Canada will need to rely on a civilian ship and the goodwill of allies to resupply its naval fleet for the foreseeable future.
The first of two new support ships being built by Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver will not be delivered until at least 2025 -- two years later than the most recent estimate.
The new delivery schedule, if it sticks, is now six years later than originally anticipated.
By that time, the navy will have been without a permanent supply ship for a full decade.
The second vessel will face a similar delay, and now is not expected until 2027.
Navy officials have previously stressed the importance of having purpose-built support ships for overseas operations given the limitations of relying on allies and the civilian vessel's inability to operate in war zones.
Even then, the new schedule is no certainty. Delays and cost overruns have plagued much of Canada's decade-long, multibillion-dollar effort to replace its aging navy and coast guard fleets.
In providing the update on Thursday, officials also could not guarantee Canada will end up with both support ships.
They say the project's budget, originally set at $2.3 billion but later updated to $4.1 billion, is now under review.
Seaspan has already started work on the second joint support ship, as the vessels are known in military circles, and Defence Department procurement chief Troy Crosby said the government's stated goal remains the purchase of two such ships.
However, Crosby added, "it's something that we're assessing now and will provide an update once we have a better understanding of exactly the cost impact."
It also wasn't immediately clear what effect the new delay will have on the other shipbuilding projects that Seaspan is working on, which includes a new polar icebreaker to replace the coast guard's flagship by 2030.
Canada has been without a permanent supply ship since 2015, when the navy was forced to retire its existing two vessels earlier than expected after one caught on fire while at sea and excessive corrosion was discovered on the other.
The government initially relied on allies to fill the gap before agreeing to lease a converted civilian container ship from Quebec-based Chantier Davie. That deal was at the heart of the failed prosecution of retired vice-admiral Mark Norman.
The military's former second-in-command was accused of leaking cabinet secrets about the leasing agreement with Davie, but the breach-of-trust charge against him was stayed in 2019 when Crown prosecutors concluded that they had no reasonable chance of securing a conviction. Earlier this month, the Crown also dropped its related case against a federal public servant. Both men had maintained their innocence.
While the initial five-year lease agreement between Ottawa and Davie for the MV Asterix was launched in January 2018 and due to expire next year, officials said the government is now negotiating an extension.
Documents obtained by The Canadian Press in 2020 showed the navy expects to continue relying on the Asterix and allies to help resupply Canada's fleets at sea even after the two joint support ships are built.
Canada originally planned to buy three new navy support ships when it launched the project more than a decade ago, but cost overruns saw the order cut down to two.
Navy officials continued to indicate that two support ships were not enough to meet the maritime force's long-term needs, as the government's policy requires the military be able to operate two fleets at sea at the same time.
The fear is that the navy will be hamstrung whenever one of the two so-called joint support ships is out of commission, either for repairs or for some other reason.
Asked whether the government was looking to purchase the Asterix outright from Davie, as some observers have previously suggested, the senior official responsible for military procurement at Public Service and Procurement Canada said no.
"Discussions and negotiations at the moment are just truly and only about extending the contract as we know it now," said Simon Page, the department's assistant deputy minister.
Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee said the force will continue to rely on the Asterix and allies for assistance resupplying at sea, but he acknowledged both stopgaps have drawbacks and limitations.
Those include the fact the Asterix is not designed for "high-threat environments," Topshee said. It also means the navy cannot currently meet the government's requirement that it be able to operate two fleets at sea at the same time.
"Can we manage? Yes," Topshee said.
"Is it ideal? No, that's why we're building the two joint support ships."
The new delay is the latest blow to the federal government's effort to replace the aging fleets of both the navy and Canadian Coast Guard -- an effort that has already dragged on for more than a decade and is now projected to cost around $100 billion.
While officials blamed a combination of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and supply-chain problems, many of the issues predate both and have been pinned on both the government and shipyards.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.
'Called the wrong bluff': Ministers criticized for Canada's Russian turbine return during tense hearing
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly was challenged Thursday on her assertion the federal government making the decision to grant a two-year exemption to federal sanctions, allowing a Canadian company to return repaired turbines from a Russian-German natural gas pipeline, was done to 'call Putin's bluff.'
Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki took turns Monday denying pressuring the RCMP, or interfering in the police investigation into the Nova Scotia mass shooting, saying that their approaches were appropriate and warranted, given the unprecedented nature of the situation.
The Conservative Party leadership race is well underway as contenders hold rallies, duke it out in debates, and slowly release more details of their policy platforms. Here's a snapshot of where the five candidates stand on the economy, housing, climate, defence and social issues.
Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem says Canada's inflation rate is set to remain 'painfully high' for the rest of the year. In an exclusive interview with CTV News, Macklem says the path to a 'soft' economic landing is 'narrowing' but at this point the central bank is not projecting a recession.
Five months ago, the first 'Freedom Convoy' trucks rolled into Ottawa. After the federal government took the unprecedented step of invoking the Emergencies Act to end the protests, a series of inquiries and probes have been initiated. With the nation's capital bracing for more protests over the Canada Day weekend, CTVNews.ca takes a look at where the main commissions and studies stand.
'After a weeks-long survey of just about everyone I've met ... the overall judgment on Justin Trudeau is one of being a political write-off,' writes Don Martin in an opinion column for CTVNews.ca. 'He’s too woke, too precious, preachy in tone, exceedingly smug, lacking in leadership, fading in celebrity, slow to act, short-sighted in vision and generally getting more irritating with every breathlessly whispered public pronouncement,' Martin writes.
It's time for the whiners to win and the government to reopen the skies, a return to those glory times of flying when the biggest complaints were expensive parking, a middle seat and stale pretzels, commentator Don Martin writes in an exclusive opinion column for CTVNews.ca.
In an exclusive opinion column for CTVNews.ca, Don Martin says Doug Ford coasted to majority re-election victory in Ontario by sticking to the middle of the road: 'Not too progressive. Not too conservative.'
There's a lesson for Canada's political leaders in the short life and quick death of Jason Kenney as premier of Alberta, writes Don Martin in an exclusive opinion column for CTVNews.ca.
OPINION | Don Martin: Ford on cruise control to victory in Ontario while Alberta votes on killing Kenney as UCP leader
It's becoming a make-or-break week for two Conservative premiers as their futures pivot on a pair of defining moments, writes Don Martin in an exclusive opinion column for CTVNews.ca.
ANALYSIS & INSIGHTS
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
A 81-year-old Danish woman traveling from Africa to Canada was arrested at Warsaw airport on suspicion of illegal possession of heroin worth over US$515,000, officials in Poland said Friday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has nominated Ontario judge Michelle O’Bonsawin to the Supreme Court of Canada. In a statement announcing the nomination, Trudeau said that O'Bonsawin is an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation and is a fluently bilingual Franco-Ontarian.
A prominent Quebec cardinal is denying sexual assault allegations against him contained in a class-action lawsuit that was formally filed this week in Quebec Superior Court.
Nunavut's acting minister of community and government services says the territory has declared a state of emergency in Iqaluit to ensure the city can begin replenishing its water reservoir without delay.
As students across Canada gear up to enter what will be their fourth academic year in the pandemic, CTVNews.ca takes a look at what measures will be in place in schools, by province and territory.
As of today, individuals and businesses are no longer able to import restricted handguns into Canada, with limited exceptions. The move announced earlier this month is aimed at expediting a key pillar of the federal effort to cap the number of handguns in the country.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra is set to testify before the House of Commons transport committee this afternoon about ongoing airport delays and flight cancellations.
This past winter saw record losses for beekeepers, and one expert says the prospects for next year are even worse if they face another frigid winter.
The wolf that was missing for several days after an apparent break-in at the Greater Vancouver Zoo has been found and returned, officials say.
Canadian flags hang alongside those of the French and British on the streets of Dieppe, France, each August as the city marks the anniversary of an important and disastrous day during the Second World War.
Shoppers at government-run British Columbia liquor stores will see purchase limits starting Friday amid a major union's ongoing job action.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Friday she had taken a drugs test following the publication of video footage this week that showed her partying with friends, and vowed she had never used illegal drugs.
A judge refused to grant bail Thursday to the man accused of trying to kill Salman Rushdie as the acclaimed author prepared to give a talk in western New York.
Ukraine's health care system struggled for years, but war has only made things worse. Care is being provided in the hardest-hit areas by doctors who have refused to evacuate or have rushed in as volunteers, putting themselves at great risk.
A Michigan judge on Friday blocked county prosecutors from enforcing the state's 1931 ban on abortion for the foreseeable future after two days of witness testimony from abortion experts, providers and the state's chief medical officer.
The Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr improperly withheld portions of an internal memorandum Barr cited in publicly announcing that then-President Donald Trump had not committed obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation, a federal appeals panel said Friday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hinting that an energy pact planned between Canada and Germany will focus more on Canada's aim to be a long-term clean energy supplier to the world.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will ensure that members of Parliament consider all the possible consequences of a trade trip to Taiwan.
A new study has found an increased risk of certain long COVID-19 symptoms up to two years after an original infection.
The next phase of Ontario's 'Plan to Stay Open' involves transferring of seniors from hospital to alternative long-term care homes, the hiring of thousands of health-care workers and a pledge to reduce surgical backlog.
When we think of medieval friars, we may well picture Robin Hood's jolly Friar Tuck, known for his rotund figure and love of food and drink.
Amazon appears to be getting the TikTok bug, joining other companies seeking to hold consumers' attention by introducing replicas of the popular social platform.
NASA's new moon rocket arrived at the launch pad Wednesday ahead of its debut flight in less than two weeks.
This week, pop culture critic Richard Crouse reviews new movies: 'Beast,' 'Orphan: First Kill,' 'Sharp Stick,' 'Day Shift' and 'Carmen.'
R. Kelly's legal team will get its chance to question the government's star witness on Friday after she testified at his federal trial in Chicago that the R&B singer sexually abused her hundreds of times before she turned 18.
Actor and filmmaker Jonah Hill is stepping back from promoting his films, including his debut documentary, due to anxiety attacks.
A Chinese-born Canadian tycoon who disappeared from Hong Kong in 2017 was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison for a multibillion-dollar string of financial offenses and his company was fined US$8.1 billion, a court announced.
Canadian retail sales increased 1.1 per cent to $63.1 billion in June, boosted by higher sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers, Statistics Canada said Friday.
Lab-grown diamonds have become so popular with consumers that some couples are asking jewelers to swap the natural diamond in their rings for a lab-created sparkler.
A Toronto-based disability advocate is using the power of TikTok to raise awareness over the lack of wheelchair accessibility at many restaurants and bars.
Two years after a secret bike park deep in an Ontario forest was discovered and later demolished, new dirt jumps are opening just a stone's throw away.
Felix Auger-Aliassime earned a berth into the quarterfinals Thursday with a comeback win over Jannik Sinner at the Western & Southern Open Masters-level tennis tournament.
Vanessa Bryant, widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, took the witness stand Friday in her federal lawsuit against Los Angeles County over photos taken and shared by first responders of the scene of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed her husband, their teenage daughter and seven others.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will serve an 11-game unpaid suspension, pay a US$5 million fine and undergo professional evaluation and treatment as part of a settlement with the NFL following accusations of sexual misconduct by two dozen women.
She may only have her learner’s licence, but that hasn’t held a 16-year-old Comox Valley, B.C., teen back from working towards her goal of being a professional driver. Nicole Haverda got the green light on her desire to be a professional race car driver four years ago when her father took her to a Formula One race in Europe.
General Motors is recalling more than 484,000 large SUVs in the U.S. to fix a problem that can cause the third-row seat belts to malfunction.
The modern Dodge Challenger muscle car and the closely related Dodge Charger four-door sedan are ending their long production runs next year.