Government of Canada announces Polar Icebreakers to enhance Canada’s Arctic presence and provide critical services to Canadians

News release

May 6, 2021

Ottawa, ON - Canada has three oceans and the longest coastline in the world. Our nation’s blue economy depends on a strong Coast Guard fleet to keep mariners safe, protect our coasts and waterways, and deliver commercial goods and other vital services to Canadians.

The recent growth in commercial shipping, the serious impacts of climate change, and increased maritime activity in the Arctic have all highlighted Canada’s need for a renewed Coast Guard fleet.

Today the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, joined by the Quebec Lieutenant and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced the Government of Canada will move forward with the construction of two Polar icebreakers under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

Both new Polar icebreakers will have capacity and ability beyond that of Canada’s current largest icebreaker, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, and will both be built by Canadian shipyards. Early estimates are that the construction of these ships will generate approximately 300 jobs per vessel at the shipyards, and 2,500 jobs across the marine supply chain. The construction of these new ships is in addition to the $17.49 billion in contracts already awarded to shipyards large and small across Canada under the NSS that have resulted in the revitalization of Canada’s shipbuilding industry, and the creation of thousands of jobs already.

Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver, British Columbia, which has proven its shipbuilding capability with the completion of the first class of large vessels under the NSS, will build one of the Polar icebreakers. The other Polar icebreaker will be built by Davie Shipbuilding of Lévis, Quebec, pending the successful completion of the ongoing selection process as the third strategic partner for large ships construction under the NSS. Both shipyards are expected to be supported by many small and medium-sized Canadian businesses across the country, ensuring that the construction of these ships will be a historic, cross-country effort to help drive Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

This procurement approach will ensure at least one polar icebreaker is delivered by 2030 when the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is expected to retire from service. Precise timing of icebreaker delivery will be determined once shipyard agreements are in place.

With their enhanced capabilities, these larger, more powerful Polar icebreakers will enable the Coast Guard to conduct year-round operations in Canada’s Arctic. Their greater endurance will ensure they can operate at higher latitudes for longer periods, and will allow the fleet to better support Indigenous Peoples and northerners, strengthen Arctic sovereignty, advance high Arctic science, and better respond to maritime emergencies. 

Today’s announcement represents a large step forward in ensuring the Canadian Coast Guard has the equipment it needs. It will also have a lasting impact on Canadian marine industry, its workers and their suppliers. Through their construction and service, the Polar icebreakers will contribute to growing Canada’s blue economy and create more opportunities in our coastal communities. They will strengthen our Coast Guard for the long-term, and ensure that maritime services and science platforms are available year-round in Arctic waters.

Quotes

“The new Polar icebreakers will be a game-changer for Canada’s marine industry–both in their construction and the difference that a stronger presence in the Arctic will make. Built by Canadian shipyards, these vessels will enable the coast guard to conduct critical science, supply and other missions in our Arctic region year-round. Under the National Ship Building Strategy, we’re putting thousands of Canadians to work building a fleet that will serve those communities for decades.”

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“We are positioning Canada for the future by making investments today to build a more competitive economy. This includes investments to support the domestic construction of two new Polar icebreakers. The Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy will apply to these investments to strengthen Canada‘s shipbuilding industry and create good quality jobs for Canadians across the country.” 

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“The know-how and expertise of shipyard workers in the Quebec City area is well established. By planning the order for a polar icebreaker, we confirm our confidence in them and support hundreds of jobs on site and throughout the supply chain in our regions. We are here to support the economic recovery and create good jobs for families in the national capital, in the Chaudière-Appalaches region, and in all regions of Quebec.“

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Quebec Lieutenant and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

“This is a good day for North Vancouver, for Vancouver, for British Columbia and it’s a good day for Canada. Two Polar icebreakers will give Canada a year-round presence in the Arctic to help protect mariners, safeguard our marine environments, ensure the safe and efficient movement of ships, and protect our borders. At the same time, we are continuing to build a thriving domestic shipbuilding industry, creating thousands of jobs and generating economic growth and prosperity in communities across British Columbia and Canada.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Today’s announcement is further demonstration of the National Shipbuilding Strategy’s success in bringing together the Canadian marine industry to strengthen and renew our federal fleets. We are honoured to continue to support the delivery of modern, safe and effective vessels to members of the Canadian Coast Guard, which also creates jobs and supports our country’s shipbuilding industry. Thanks to the NSS, these ships will be built at home and support our communities from coast to coast to coast.”  

The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement

“This National Shipbuilding Strategy major investment marks an important step in renewing the Coast Guard’s fleet, and equipping our members with modern, safe and reliable ships so they can continue delivering critical services from coast to coast to coast. We look forward to the addition of two new Polar icebreakers to our fleet, which will extend the Coast Guard’s on-water Arctic operations all year long.”

Mario Pelletier, Commissioner for the Canadian Coast Guard 

Quick facts

  • Canada’s Coast Guard currently has 18 icebreakers of varying sizes and capability, which is the second largest icebreaking fleet in the world. The largest is the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, which will continue to operate through the next decade.

  • In 2019, the Government of Canada announced an investment for the renewal of the Canadian Coast Guard fleet with funding of $15.7 billion for up to 18 new large ships, additional funding for up to six Program icebreakers, as well as investments of over $2 billion in vessel life extension, refit, and maintenance work for the existing fleet.

  • The Government of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy is a long-term, multi-billion-dollar program focused on renewing the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy fleets to ensure that Canada’s marine agencies have the modern ships they need to fulfill their missions, while revitalizing Canada’s marine industry, creating good middle-class jobs and maximizing economic benefits across the country.

  • To date, three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (OFSV) and 18 small vessels have been delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard under the National Shipbuilding Strategy along with two refitted Medium interim icebreakers.

  • In 2019, the Government of Canada announced its intention to add a third Canadian shipyard as a partner under the NSS, and launched the competitive process to select the new shipyard.

  • Following an Invitation to Qualify (ITQ), Davie Shipbuilding of Lévis, Quebec, is the only shipyard that pre-qualified to become the third strategic partner under the Strategy. Davie Shipbuilding moved to the next stage in the selection process, the Request for Proposal and evaluation stage.

  • Subject to Davie’s successful completion of the qualification process, the Government of Canada will then begin negotiations for an Umbrella Agreement which is expected to be in place in late 2021.

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Contacts

Jane Deeks
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
343-550-9594
Jane.Deeks@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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