Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Quebec Pushing for more Federal Shipbuilding Work

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch

Quebec’s National Assembly has unanimously adopted a motion in support of the federal government re-examining the National Shipbuilding Strategy and how work on that strategy is allocated. The motion on Friday calls for more work to be directed to Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding.

MV Asterix departs Halifax Harbour on 11 April, 2018 for the Pacific coast to work with Maritime Forces Pacific. Canadian Forces photo.

Davie has already converted one supply vessel, the Asterix, which is currently at the centre of the legal battle Vice Admiral Mark Norman faces. It is also converting a fleet of used icebreakers for the Canadian Coast Guard.

Quebec’s politicians want the Liberal government to proceed immediately with a second supply ship from Davie.

Not surprisingly, Davie officials and industry affiliates welcomed the political support and issued a news release Friday highlighting the National Assembly’s position.

“In order to ensure the success of the government’s defence policy – Strong, Secure and Engaged – as well as the navy’s Leadmark 2050 plan, we need to begin the construction of a second ship without delay,” James Davies, President of Davie Shipbuilding, said in a statement.

Irving and Seaspan, the shipyards selected to perform the major chunk of work under the shipbuilding strategy, are opposed to additional contracts going to Davie. Irving, in particular, has voiced its concern.

Seaspan shipyards in Vancouver will build the first of two Joint Support Ships, scheduled to be ready in the 2021-2022 timeframe.

This is not the first time that Quebec has pushed for more work under the shipbuilding strategy. In December 2017, politicians and unions in Quebec tried to turn up the heat on the Liberal government, questioning why Davie shipyards wasn’t getting work from the federal government. They highlighted the capability of the shipyard to deliver a second Asterix-type ship quickly.

But Transport Minister, and former navy officer, Marc Garneau said the federal government didn’t need another supply ship.
”We cannot artificially create a need for something that doesn’t exist,” he told reporters at the time.

He did not explain how one supply ship would support naval fleets operating on two coasts.

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