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Davie ship part of Navy’s long term plan to prevent ‘capability gap’: Documents

The federal government originally planned to buy three new joint support ships for the navy when it launched the project more than a decade ago

November 25, 2020  The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Navy plans to continue relying on a converted civilian container ship owned by a Quebec shipyard for supplies at sea even after two new support vessels are built.

The revelation is in new documents obtained by The Canadian Press through the access-to-information law as the federal Liberal government is facing pressure to buy the MV Asterix from Chantier Davie.

The Liberals have been resisting such calls and are instead in the midst of a five-year, $700-million leasing arrangement with Davie for the Asterix, with an option to extend the deal for another five years.

Yet the documents suggest the ship is part of the navy’s plan to ensure it has enough support ships to prevent a “capability gap” over the long term, such as when one of the two new joint support ships being built in Vancouver is out of commission.

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The federal government originally planned to buy three new joint support ships for the navy when it launched the project more than a decade ago, before cost overruns saw the order cut down to two.

Navy officials have previously indicated that two joint support ships alone are not enough to meet the maritime force’s long-term needs, and the parliamentary budget officer last week suggested Ottawa could buy the Asterix for $633 million.