Vanguard Magazine

Jun/Jul 2015

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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T Shipbuilding 30 JUNE/JULY 2015 In late May, the Royal Canadian Navy paid off HMCS Protecteur, last of two remaining support ships. Built in the 1960s, the Protecteur-class was expected to be replaced by 2012. At present, the government is working with Seaspan Shipyards to begin construction on two Joint Support Ships, to be known as the Queenston class. In the interim, however, it may have to consider a commercial alternative to bridge the gap between now and when new ships enter service in 2021. henning Jacobsen served as a consultant on the initial Joint Support Ship Program that was cancelled in 2008. He argues the program to deliver a new replenishment ship should never have reached this point. The joinT supporT ship debacle T he Royal Canadian Navy entered the 21st century with three underway-replenishment vessels. Today, the service has none. How did we reach this unfortunate state? The history of the Joint Support Ship (JSS) replacement program is littered with missteps and might be instructive as a lesson for the future. On 16 April 2004, then Prime Minister Paul Martin announced plans to procure three new support ships to replace the Protecteur-class of underway-replenishment vessels. This new class of ships, in addition to supporting naval operations, would perform sealift and be able to transport an army battle group – a capability Canada's navy has lacked since the departure of the light carrier HMCS Bonaventure in 1970. The new ships would also have reinforced hulls enabling support of the soon to be developed Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) to facilitate operations in the Arctic Ocean. The requirement for three JSS was re-affirmed in June 2006 by the newly-elected Conservative government, which summarily issued a request for proposals for a funded project definition phase. As one of the largest navy shipbuilding contracts in the past 20 years, the RFP attracted four syndicates vying for two contracts. The two down-selected consortia were ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada (TKMSC) and SNC Lavalin/ProFac (SNC); the unsuccessful bidders were Irving Shipbuilding and BAE Systems. TKMSC and SNC prepared and then submitted their respective project definition proposals in March 2008. The government announced that one bidder would be awarded the project imple- mentation contract later that year and the first 28,000-tonne vessels would be delivered in 2012. Murphy's law The two teams were well qualified, though not without their deficiencies. SNC Lavalin, a large engineering firm, had vast expertise in project management. Though it had no experience with naval shipbuilding, it partnered with Washington Group's Vancouver Shipyard (today known as Seaspan) and ProFac, an in-service support provider with a sound track record on previous Canadian maritime programs. Vancouver Shipyards was in turned assisted by a U.S. marine architect during the design phase. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany, an international naval designer and shipbuilder perhaps best known for its MEKO-class of surface combatants, built in shipyards throughout the world, often in counties with little shipbuilding experi- ence. In Canada, it partnered with PKS Kiewit of Newfoundland, a shipyard better known for building oil rigs. At the time, a more suitable partner such as Davie Shipbuilding was in bankruptcy while Irving Shipbuilding was involved in repair and overhaul of the current fleet of Canadian frigates. Though Kiewit had no na- S henning Jacobsen is the owner of HJA Solutions, a consultancy that has advised numerous defence companies.

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