Davie delivers support ship to Canada, is denied in bid for another


Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding completed the construction, commissioning and sea trials of the first Resolve-class naval support ship for the Royal Canadian Navy in December, but declared in public that it was not given the opportunity to provide a second vessel.

The 26,000-tonne Asterix is a converted ice-strengthened containership. It was stripped down to its keel and rebuilt in a modular fashion, with the same military systems that will be installed on Canada’s future naval ships, including tactical, navigation and platform management equipment from OSI of Vancouver, British Columbia, L3 MAPPS of Montreal, Quebec, and Hepburn of Toronto, Ontario.

Asterix is the first new naval support ship to enter service with the Royal Canadian Navy in more than 50 years. It is also the first large naval platform to be delivered from a Canadian shipyard in over 20 years, and the first naval ship to be delivered since the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) was launched in 2010. Asterix will operate under the ownership of Federal Fleet Services and be crewed by Canadian merchant mariners and Royal Canadian Navy personnel for at least the next 10 years.

“To see the Resolve class as just another naval ship is too simplistic,” Spencer Fraser, CEO of Federal Fleet Services, said in a prepared statement when Asterix was delivered. “It is truly a force multiplier which will provide a globally deployable operating base for the Canadian forces.”

While Davie parent Chantier Davie Canada has developed plans for a second Resolve-class ship, it has been unable to secure a contract. Under the provisions of the NSS, only two shipbuilders — Irving of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Seaspan of Vancouver — are in line for $38 billion in new ship construction. Canada has designated Irving to produce combat ships, with Seaspan building non-combat vessels.

Davie, Canada’s largest shipyard, was recovering from bankruptcy at the time the NSS was adopted and was excluded. Ottawa plans on acquiring a second naval supply ship in 2021 from Seaspan, which has a $4.1 billion contract for two vessels. The Canadian government remains adamant that it does not need another ship from Davie.

The Levis, Quebec, shipbuilder disagrees, stating in December that due to program delays and limited shipbuilding capacity under the NSS, another support vessel likely will not be delivered before 2026 at the earliest and possibly as late as 2028.

“As such, Davie has offered to build a second Resolve-class naval support ship for the Royal Canadian Navy in order to mitigate the need for Canada to rent supplementary ships from the Chilean and Spanish navies over the next decade,” the company said in a news release.

At a news conference on Dec. 14, Fraser said if Chantier Davie Canada was not promptly awarded new contracts, the revenues of numerous Greater Montreal suppliers would substantially decrease. He predicted substantial job losses as well. Fraser said in addition to 800 professionals at Chantier Davie who will be laid off, at least 158 jobs would be lost in Montreal.

“These figures add to 350 jobs, which will be lost among our suppliers from the Quebec City area,” he said.

Davie and Federal Fleet Services are part of the Inocea Group. Davie focuses on shipbuilding and Federal Fleet concentrates on obtaining contracts and on vessel charters.

By Professional Mariner Staff