Canadian Icebreaker, Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship, Shipyard “Rationalization”

As we noted earlier the Canadians are embarking on a major ship building program. A lot is riding on the choice of two shipyards that will be responsible for virtually all the work.

Most interesting for Coast Guard readers is that they will be building a large icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard and six to eight “Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships” which can operate in the North West Passage in the Summer months in addition to serving as conventional offshore patrol vessels based on the Norwegian Coast Guard ship Svalbard (These ships are going to the Navy).¬† Background here, here, and here.

The selection has been made and the Irving Shipyard in Halifax, NS, will get the contract for 15 combat vessels and the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, worth a total of about C$25B. Seaspan Shipyard, in Vancouver, BC, will build non-combat vessels, valued at approximately C$8B, including those for the Coast Guard as well as oceanographic and fisheries research vessels.

(A note of thanks to Ken White for keeping me up to date on this and providing the illustrations below.)

11 thoughts on “Canadian Icebreaker, Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship, Shipyard “Rationalization”

  1. Galrahn over at “” has some comments on this and some kind words for the USCG as well:

    “I really think the US government needs to think seriously about doing the same for the USCG, indeed replacing USCG Cutters is a bigger national need today than replacing any single type of vessel in the US Navy. Buying USCG Cutters isn’t as sexy as buying a bunch of high tech, well armed US Navy ships, but the average age of the Cutter force today is over 40 years old. It’s a serious problem. ”


  2. You might also note that in Canada the Coast Guard runs their research vessels as well.

    If the Government wants to consider some reorganization, perhaps the CG operating research ships would make sense. There has always been some bleed over. Our one operational icebreaker seems to be primarily devoted to research. Ocean Station used to do oceanographic and atmospheric data collection on a daily basis.

    • Hi Chuck–

      I’d have some concerns (considering my handle, I’m sure everyone is shocked) that Homeland Security missions would slowwwlllyy elbow research capabilities aside…it sounds like some ‘traditional’ USCG missions have suffered the same fate in the cutter fleet.

      Another concern would be conflating fisheries research and fisheries enforcement. NOAA fisheries scientists rely on close cooperation with the commercial and recreational fishing community. And right now, at least in some areas, of the country, that relationship works pretty well. NOAA doesnt enforce at all from white ships with big blue meat balls on them…they just do science. I’m concerned that if the research ships have a big red and blue racing stripe on them, that close cooperation woudl be jeopardized.

      Could these things be worked around? Perhaps. But such work-arounds might erase any increased effeciencies…

    • Chuck – the “Coast Guard should do more oceanographic missions” train left the station a long time ago. The Coast Guard already suffers from the tension inherent from being both a military organization, a traditional law enforcement agency, and a regulatory agency. Oceanographic research is a Commerce/DOD mission, not a Homeland Security mission. Taking on yet another mission would simply dilute the Coast Guard’s strength even further.

      NOAA Guy is right. Leave research to the civilian, non law enforcement part of the government. Unless, of course, you are in favor of the Coast Guard moving towards that model…..

  3. I am sure your all aware of the great differences between the USCG and the Canadian Coast Guard, which is NOT a military force, indeed is not even a para-military force or even a Law Enforcement organisation.

    As Leesea notes, this is not being universally applauded in Canada – I have seen it suggested 3 proper Ice breakers for Coast Guard, and more non-ice hardened (e.g. cheaper) patrol vessels for Navy might have been a better mix.

    Jed (ex-RN, living in Canada)

  4. I hope when consider what we build we work in a joint effort to meet these needs with our allies. It is important because of remoteness that we share this grave responsibility. The days of go it alone need to cease and sharing the operations, and management will be important. I am glad Canada is taking this issue seriously and we should look to design a detail operations plan that will save both nations money.

  5. Maybe out of your remit but I am looking for a plan of a Canadian Icebreaker. Strange request from a 70 year modeller living on the East coast of England. I build in 1/12 scale and would wish to avery standard .I have many pictures of Icebreakers but plans are essential for me to attain the very high standard I set my self. Currently I am completing a model Lifeboat which will be willed to the R.N.L.I. at my local station Thanks Michael P Farrell

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