OTTAWA – The Department of National Defence wants to start cutting steel on the navy’s new resupply ships early as it seeks to keep the multibillion-dollar project from slipping farther behind schedule.
The plan would see work on the two resupply ships begin this year during a lull in the construction of two different coast guard science vessels, rather than after those vessels are completed.
Defence officials say they are now talking to counterparts from several other federal departments about the proposal, which was initially pitched by Seaspan Shipbuilding in Vancouver.
Seaspan says the science vessels would still be completed first, but that starting work on the resupply ships early would keep it from having to lay off workers during the production gap.
It would also mean delivery of the first resupply vessel in 2022 and the second in 2023 – still several years behind the original schedule, but about 12 months earlier than without the proposal.
News of the proposal comes as the navy prepares to receive a converted civilian freighter, the MV Asterix, that will act as an interim resupply vessel until the two Protecteur-class vessels are ready.