Vanguard Magazine

Jun/Jul 2015

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

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T ThE lAST WORD 46 JUNE/JULY 2015 Vice-Admiral (Ret'd) peter Cairns is president of the Shipbuilding Association of Canada and a former commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. T he Shipbuilding Association of Canada, in partnership with Vanguard magazine, recently completed the sec- ond of its shipbuilding technology forums. The initial feedback has been very positive and we are now look- ing at future events together. While the Shipbuilding Association and Vanguard may seem like an unlikely combination, they are anything but. Vanguard provides the marketing and conference management skills and the Association the technical content and subject matter expertise. Both organizations were looking to expand their reach and influ- ence and, after some discussion, it became apparent that there were more positives than negatives to working together. The major influence in Canadian shipbuild- ing is the federal government's National Ship- building Procurement Strategy (NSPS). It is a massive, multi-billion dollar program that will provide the Navy and Coast Guard with mod- ern Canadian built ships over the next 20 to 30 years. Some companies will grow and prosper as a result, but NSPS cannot be all things to all people. In my view the technology forums can be a way of ensuring that non-NSPS shipbuild- ers and suppliers are kept aware of the latest trends in technology and how they might apply this knowledge to their own unique requirements. One of the least known, but most important goals of NSPS is to build a sustainable shipbuilding industry. Canada is comprised of four geographical marine regions: the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, and the Arctic. Each of these re- gions has varying levels of infrastructure. The Atlantic and Pacific regions are the most developed and were the beneficiaries of the initial NSPS shipbuilding contracts. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region sits astride the United States and Canada border. Vessels that work the Great Lakes re- gion must be able to pass through the Welland Canal and seaway locks and as such are restricted in size. Operation in this area is negatively affected by winter weather and the seaway is shut down for about three months a year. The Arctic, for all intents and purposes, lacks any technical in- frastructure whatsoever. However, there is an expectation for an explosion of marine activity in the region in the very near future. The generally accepted wisdom is that the Arctic will be ice-free by the end of the century. Now it appears that multi-year sea ice is returning and ice cover is increasing. Icebreakers were working in the Great Lakes as late as May of 2014. Regardless, it is clear that ships that can safely work in ice will continue to be required for the foreseeable future. Previously, Can- ada was a world leader in icebreaker technology. We can be again. The pressure of ever-changing environmental standards will be- come a major driver in the overall cost of ships, both government and commercial. There is a plethora of new and complex envi- ronmental regulations now in play or on the way that will affect ships and how they operate. These will drive up shipbuilding and ship operational costs to the benefit of shipbuilders in countries with lower labour costs in comparison to Canada. The intelligent use of technology may be one way to cope with these disadvantages and is one of the reasons for the Association's ship- building technology forums. The forums have several purposes: advance shipyard building processes; make smaller builders aware of new technologies; identify areas where research and development are required; and highlight the development of Canadian designed and constructed equipment, from integrated platform management systems, to towing pins and every thing in between. It is in this last area that Canada can level the playing field. When one looks at a ship the traditional hull form is all that is seen. Once on onboard, though, the magic begins. Canada has a number of smaller marine companies with world-class technology. They provide the Canadian content in Canadian built ships. It is Canadian content that provides the skilled technicians, engineers and the economic benefits to Canada. The other day a contract worth CN$40 million was let to a shipbuilder in Chile by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. It is reported that the tender may not have even been offered to shipbuilders in Ontario. This amounts to backdoor subsidization of the ferry operator at the expense of Canadian wages, benefits and content. It is for situations like this that NSPS incorporated a strong build-in-Canada provision. changing course One of the least known, but most important goals of nSpS is to build a sustainable shipbuilding industry.

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