Canadian Coast Guard’s Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships
As part of its fleet renewal plan, the Canadian Coast Guard is acquiring two Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) to replace two of the five existing offshore patrol vessels. The new AOPS will support offshore patrol of international fisheries surveillance and Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization patrols, and offshore search and rescue on Canada’s east coast and in the Arctic.
The AOPS are versatile and modern ships that will allow greater flexibility and adaptability for Canadian Coast Guard’s operations, including icebreaking, science research, humanitarian assistance and aids to navigation.
The AOPS are designed with a hull form and strength capable of supporting icebreaking operations in the low Arctic during the summer and on the east coast during the winter. They are also outfitted with a medical cabin and shipping container accommodation, which allow the vessels to provide humanitarian assistance and support resupply operations to communities when needed. Equipped with a robust crane and A-frame on the stern of the ship, the AOPS will be capable of supporting aid to navigation operations and science research, providing greater capacity for important science missions and helping protecting our waters as part of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan.
In 2019, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. from Halifax, Nova Scotia was awarded the contract for the engineering design review for the AOPS variants for the Canadian Coast Guard. In November 2022, the build contract was amended to include the construction of the two AOPS for the Canadian Coast Guard, in addition to the six AOPS being built for the Royal Canadian Navy. Construction of the first AOPS for the Canadian Coast Guard officially began on August 8, 2023, marked by the steel cutting ceremony at Irving Shipbuilding Inc.
The construction of the AOPS falls under the Large Vessels construction pillar of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. Their construction represents an important contribution to the Government of Canada’s efforts to renew the Canadian Coast Guard fleet and revitalize the Canadian shipbuilding industry, in addition to equipping Canadian Coast Guard personnel with the ships they need to carry out their essential work across the country.
The National Shipbuilding Strategy is a long-term investment that is delivering results now: ships for the Canadian Coast Guard and good jobs for Canadians working in the shipbuilding and marine sectors. To date, three large vessels and numerous small vessels have been delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard, and many more are under construction across Canada.
It is expected that the first AOPS will be delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard in 2026, followed by the second planned delivery in 2027.
Vessel modifications for the Canadian Coast Guard
The Canadian Coast Guard’s AOPS will be built on the basis of the Royal Canadian Navy’s base design of the ship and will be modified to comply with the requirements for civilian vessels and meet Canadian Coast Guard needs to conduct its range of missions and operations.
These vessel modifications include removal of weapons, as well as changes to the bridge layout, to the accommodations, to mission spaces, to the working deck, and tailoring of selected spaces for science missions. Main components of the vessel such as hull, engines and propulsive systems will remain unchanged.
The AOPS procurement project will allow better cooperation between the Navy and the Coast Guard for offshore patrol and border presence while promoting learning and skill-sharing of the crews who will be working on these state-of-the-art ships.
Vessels general specifications
The AOPS are highly capable and versatile ships in comparison to the existing offshore patrol vessels, enabling them to perform as an at-sea operations centre. The AOPS can operate beyond 120 nautical miles including outside the Exclusive Economic Zone, have a top speed of 17 knots and can stay at sea for up to 48 days.
Other main specifications of the ships include:
- 103 metres long
- 19 metres beam
- approximately 6,677 metric tons displacement
- can accommodate a crew of 31 members with berths for 57 in total
- available command and control spaces
- equipped with 20-tonne crane in the back of the vessel to support aids to navigation operations, and an A-frame designed to support science missions, and;
- shipping container capability for resupply missions.
The new AOPS have a helicopter pad and hangar that will allow the ships to accommodate both light (Bell 429) and medium lift (Bell 412 EPI) Canadian Coast Guard helicopters, as well as National Defence’s Cyclone helicopters. This advanced helicopter capability will increase cooperation and sharing of information with the Royal Canadian Navy to help protect lives at sea and strengthen border security on our coasts.
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