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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Navy Rents Barge to Deliver Fuel to Arctic

The Royal Canadian Navy is supplying its ships through any means necessary. This summer, the Navy rented the Chilean Navies AOR supply vessel for$6 million for 40 days, and are working on leasing a Spanish Navy AOR for the East Coast. The Navy has also announced it will rent the Chilean vessel several more times in the coming years.

Now the Navy has hired a company to move more than 220,000 liters of marine fuel on a barge into the Arctic, so that the Navy could fuel its warships during Northern exercises. The barge was also used to resupply the ships, according to a Navy officer.

Last month the Navy deployed two Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs) to the Arctic from the West Coast. This is the first time in 60 years that ships from Canada's Pacific fleet have ventured into the North. The military identified refueling the ships as a major hurdle in the exercise. The military has experimented with refueling barges before and decided that this was the best way to resupply the ships. Logistics when operating in the North is one of the most difficult tasks for any military when operating in such a remote location.

The Navy originally planned on sailing the barge from CFB Esquimalt, but that proved to me too difficult, and not very cost effective - a journey of more than 6,500 km. Instead the fuel was transported by truck to Mackenzie River, and then towed into the Arctic.

The barge was jointly used to help resupply other ships taking part in the 2015 portion of OP NANOOK.

In 2007 the Harper government announced it would construct a deep-water port and refueling station at Nanisivik on Baffin Island - which was supposed to be operational by 2012 - but it has fallen behind schedule and rising costs will limit the project. It is supposed to be operational by 2018 - and will only act as a refueling station during the summer months. A number of defence analysis inisit the Canadian Forces will need multiple refueling stations in the North if the Navy and the CF will have a larger presence in the future. It would also help Canada's sovereignty claims.

No costs associated with renting the barge have been released.