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Project Resolve: The RCN's iAOR

Project Resolve 

The Royal Canadian Navy's Plan for an Interim Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (iAOR) with the help of Davie Shipbuilding and The Asterix boxship. 

Last Update: March 7, 2017

The webpage for the project has been updated, and information can now be found at: http://federalfleet.ca/ 


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Project Resolve is a single source program with Davie Shipbuilding, based in Levis, Quebec to supply an interim supply ship (iAOR) to the Royal Canadian Navy, until the Queenston-class AORs can be built. Chantier Davie Canada Inc. is Canada’s largest and highest-capacity shipbuilder and industrial fabricator.

With a large gap between the retirement of HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver and the introduction of the Queenstons the RCN is facing a major capability gap. Under this program Davie shipbuilding has purchased the Asterix, a 1702-TEU boxship that will be converted into an AOR. The Asterix formerly flew under the Monrovia Flag. The retrofitted Asterix is presently referred to as the Resolve-class iAOR. 

Key features of the project include landing pad and two hangars for up to Chinook sized helicopters; but will most likely accommodate the new CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters. The ship will have accommodations for up to 350 personnel, including medical and command facilities; 10,000 tons of fuel, and support for up to 40 sea containers. It's capabilities seem to equal that of the upcoming Queenston class. There isn't clear information yet on who will own and operate it.  It could end up being owned by Davie, leased by the RCN and commissioned until the Queenstons come online, in a similar way the Russian Mi-17s were leased and officially put into service as the CH-178 and operated by the RCAF in Afghanistan until Chinooks were delivered. Non official lease agreement has been signed by the Government. Despite the Federal Election, it is expected that any future government will move forward with the plan as the Navy requires AOR capabilities. The RCN is expected to lease a Spanish AOR for services on the East coast at some point during 2016.

L-3 MAPPS announced today that Chantier Davie Canada Inc. and Project Resolve Inc. have selected its Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) for the conversion of the container vessel M.V. Asterix into an Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (AOR) ship for the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) interim supply ship capability.

At the beginning of August 2015, the Government of Canada gave Davie Shipbuilding permission to advance with Project Resolve, an initiative to pursue at-sea support for the RCN

In the past, Asterix belonged to Capital Ship Management, an Evangelos Marinakis-controlled company. Now, Davie will own the vessel through Project Resolve Inc. and charter it out to the Royal Navy. It was delivered to Davie at the end of September 2015, and work has begun on the transformation - a cost of $400 million.

On September 11, 2015 – L-3 MAPPS announced that Chantier Davie Canada Inc. and Project Resolve Inc. have selected its Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) for the conversion of the container vessel M.V. Asterix into an Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (AOR) ship for the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) interim supply ship capability.
The transaction cost Davies somewhere around $20 million to purchase the Asterix. Davie will convert the ship into a complete naval vessel, capable of carrying two helicopters and refueling moving warships.

To complete the transformation, the Asterix’s container guides will be replaced with 10,000 tonnes worth of fuel tanks. As a result, the finished product should have the ship measure in at 40-teu.

Estimates say this conversion will cost upwards of $400 million.

It’s a costly endeavor, but Davie believes the Capital ship has a promising foundation. With cruising speeds of 20.5 knots and a versatile hull shape and design, the Asterix has huge potential. The conversion should be complete by the summer of 2017, four years ahead of the first Queenston-Class AOR. 

The ship, currently in Levis, Quebec will be later transferred to the West Coast (CFB Esquimalt) so the replenishment at sea (RAS) system from HMCS Protecteur can be installed, sources told Defence Watch. The RAS system was not damaged in the 2014 fire that led to the decommissioning of Protecteur. Sea trials on the refurbished Asterix will be done on the West Coast in late 2016 or early 2017.

Beyond its service with the Navy, the converted vessel will aid in humanitarian relief efforts. No news about the ownership of the Asterix after the Queenston enters service. Davie could continue to lease the vessel to other Navy's. Australia leased a Spanish AOR in 2013 for 9 months. So there is a market for temporary AOR services. Davie could also sell the AOR to a nation looking to add AOR capabilities to its fleet. It could also sell the vessel to the RCN after the lease period - or maybe a lease to own agreement will be made with the RCN.

On October 15, 2015, Davie made an offer to the Royal Canadian Navy to convert a second boxship, a sister ship to the Asterix to provide the Navy with a second iAOR until the Queenstons are ready. Davie believes a second ship could be ready by 2018, and at around the same cost - if not less than the Asterix, as multiples always bring down the costs. According to the Navy - they are not interested in a second iAOR. Instead they will continue to lease a Chilean AOR and a Spanish AOR for training purposes throughout 2016.

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As of October 28, 2015 - The Asterix is now in the Levis, Quebec shipyard, and has started its 17-month long conversion from a 1,700 TEU Boxship into an Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (AOR) vessel which will be leased to the Royal Canadian Navy from 2017-2021.

While an official contract between the Federal Government and Davie Shipbuilding has yet to be signed. Currently the Government is in Caretaker Mode after the Election; which will last until at least November 4, 2015; and therefore cannot officially proceed. Davie announced earlier this week that the Asterix (currentley being labled by some as the Resolve-Class) interim AOR (iAOR) will be made available to the RCN until both Queenston-Class AORs are operational; which is currently estimated at some point in 2021.

Following the five year lease to the RCN, Davie announced that it will the offer to sell the vessel to the Navy. Davie also offered to convert a second Boxship into an iAOR for the Navy, and have it operational by late 2018, according to the Navy - they are not interested in a second iAOR (despite the 50% reduced cost associated with the iAORs compared to the AORs)

For now, we wait until the new Government is formed. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister-Elect will announce his cabinet on November 4, 2015 - and from there everything could change. Perhaps the Navy will consider a second iAOR, and save on leasing a Spanish or Chilean AOR during the 2017 calendar year. Currently a Spanish AOR will serve on the East Coast at some point in 2016 with the RCN.

On November 7 it was announced DRS Technologies Canada will be providing integrated communications systems to Chantier Davie Canada and Project Resolve Inc. for the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) ship program.

The AOR ship program is an important interim capability to supply at-sea Canadian naval forces with fuel, ammunition, water, spare parts and food. The DRS integrated communications system will include all internal tactical and secure voice switching systems and terminals; communication systems required under Safety of Life at Sea regulations; the entertainment, broadcast and alarms systems; and the networks system.

It leverages the DRS Shipboard Integrated Communications system, SHINCOM 3100, developed in Canada and currently operating on the RCN’s Halifax-class Frigates and other multi-national naval ships.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for DRS to deliver the SHINCOM 3100 system to the Royal Canadian Navy leveraging the existing installed base with the Canadian Halifax-class, Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy and United States Navy,” said Steve Zuber, vice president and general manager of DRS Technologies Canada Ltd. “This program will facilitate interoperability and the ability to share technology and applications, ensuring that SHINCOM 3100 remains the premier internal communications system for years to come, and a fleet standard,” Zuber said.

“Project Resolve will provide the RCN with an urgently needed and essential replenishment at-sea capability,” said Spencer Fraser, chief executive officer of Project Resolve Inc. “We are extremely proud to have assembled an impressive pan-Canadian supply chain that will feature ‘best-of-breed’ naval technologies developed and produced here at home by Canadian personnel. DRS Technologies Canada Ltd. is a trusted partner with an outstanding pedigree of providing and supporting the RCN and exporting Canadian secure naval communications technology worldwide. The company will be bringing a very modern and proven capability to our AOR solution.”

UPDATE: November 23, 2015 - Liberal Government has put a HOLD ON FINAL CONTRACT: Davie is still working on converting Asterix. Irving calling foul on contract - claims to have cheaper/faster solution.

According to CBC's James Cudmore - the Liberal government has chosen to delay approval for the final contract to Davie Shipbuilding for the Asterix boxship to be fully converted into an Interim Auxiliary Oil Replenishment Vessel.

According to the CBC, the potential 7-year lease is estimated at $700 million, where the RCN will be given the option to purchase the Asterix at the en of the lease agreemnt.

The Liberal Cabinet commitee decided to delay the decision on whether or not top proceed with with the Project - a delay of possibly 2 months - all while Davie is already doing work.

If the government does not sign the final contract before November 30th, they will owe Davie $89 Million - as it was written into the original offer of intent signed by the Conservative Government.

Davie has already purchased the Asterix and had it delivered to its shipyard in Levis, Quebec earlier this year, and has already begun work.

The big question is whether or not the delay will scuttle the project - and leave the RCN without AOR capabilities until beyond 2021.

The Shipbuilding Association of Canada announced that they are surprised and disappointed in the delay being caused by the Government - saying the delay will only cause more cost to Canadians (as per the $89 million owed to Davie on December 1st if the final contract is not signed, and the potential legal ramifications if the government withdraws from the project - Davie has planned to invest close to $400 million.

According to Davie  they are still moving forward. Project Revolve released this statement:

"The[initial] agreement enabled Davie to commence the build program while the final details of a services agreement (relating to when the vessel enters service following the build) were being concluded and several independent auditors were engaged to assist the Government of Canada with its due diligence.

"We have now agreed all terms and conditions, all audits have been successfully completed and we expect the services contract to be signed before the end of this month.

"In the meantime, work continues onboard m/v Asterix"

CBC sources indicate that Irving Shipyards is to blame for the delay - sending letters to the Liberal Government - asking it to reconsider their initial options for iAORs for the RCN.

There are also allegations from different high-level sources in those same corners that Irving Shipbuilding Inc., a longtime competitor of Davie, meddled in the decision by sending letters to several cabinet ministers about the deal, an event that in the words of one defence source "tipped over the apple cart."

Davie, based in Lévis, Que., has long done government work, but was frozen out of the government's $39-billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. Irving was that strategy's key beneficiary, winning the lion's share of the work available. The lesser portion of the work, the so-called non-combat package, was awarded to Seaspan in Vancouver.

New supply ships are part of that deal, but none are expected to be operational until 2020 at the earliest, leaving Canada with a significant gap in capability.
Liberal ministers were warned Thursday that without guaranteed access to a supply ship, Canada will have "dramatically diminished capabilities to defend Canada" and to go abroad in support of coalition operations, or to aid in natural disaster or support humanitarian missions, CBC News has also learned.

Davie created the idea of the interim supply ship deal in 2014 and pitched unsolicited to government.

Several sources say the idea was viewed with suspicion by bureaucrats inside the government's shipbuilding offices who worried the proposal would undermine or threaten the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

The Irving and Seaspan yards subsequently offered their own interim proposals, leading to the bizarre situation of NSPS shipyards offering to build an interim supply ship for Canada that was only necessary because the NSPS program had yet to deliver supply ships.

Whatever those yards offered, the Davie deal appeared to win the Conservative government's favour.
Irving letter to ministers

It's that decision that the Irving team complained about in its letter, obtained by CBC News, and addressed to new Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote. The letter was also sent to President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison and Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

In his letter dated Tuesday, James D. Irving, the firm's co-chief executive officer, accused the government of pursuing a sole-source contract with Davie, despite an offer from Irving and Maersk Lines to provide a lower-cost option.

"This was done on a non-competitive basis without transparency and without a full evaluation of cost, delivery schedule, capability and risk associated with the Irving-Maersk proposal.

Irving requested its proposal be evaluated once more, before the government signs off on the Davie deal.

Emails to several Irving staff went unanswered Thursday.

The Davie deal is, indeed, a sole-source arrangement as Irving complained. But cabinet was told Thursday the deal had won an exemption to the government's contracting regulations and that there was little risk it could be successfully challenged.

Davie has already bought the ship it is to convert and has brought it to its yard on the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City.

In a statement, Davie said it had an agreement with the government.

"All audits have been successfully completed and we expect the services contract to be signed before the end of this month."

UPDATE: December 1, 2016  LIBERAL GOVERNMENT OK's DAVIE DEAL FOR iAOR

LEVIS, Que. — After putting the project on hold, the federal government announced Monday the Chantier Davie Shipyard in Quebec will be granted the sole-source contract to provide a temporary supply ship for the navy.
The entrance of the Davie shipyard in Levis, Que., in 2006.


Procurement Minister Judy Foote said the contract, which is valued at up to $587 million, will be given to the shipyard to upgrade a civilian tanker to act as a military replenishment ship while the navy’s long-delayed, joint support ships are built as part of the national shipbuilding program.

“After amassing the facts and carefully deliberating, the Government of Canada determined that proceeding with (Davie) is the most viable course of action to provide the navy’s (temporary) at-sea oil replenishment capacity,” she said in a statement.

The Conservative government had arranged for Davie to retrofit the ship through a sole-source process rather than a competitive one after it was forced to retire its two, 45-year-old replenishment vessels.
At the time the Harper government’s move was unprecedented.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press revealed a line was added to contracting regulations giving cabinet authority to award a deal to a single company if there are urgent “operational reasons” and it fulfils an interim requirement.

Defence sources had told The Canadian Press that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put the plan on hold because his government was uncomfortable with the sole-source nature of the arrangement.

The Liberals also faced pressure from the two companies that received contracts in the national shipbuilding program — Irving Shipbuilding, in Halifax, and Seaspan, in Vancouver. Both wrote letters protesting the deal with Davie.

Trudeau’s decision sparked a strong rebuke from Quebec politicians who pointed out the ship was already purchased and in the Davie yard and that hundreds of workers had already been hired.

Foote noted in her statement that the agreement signed by the Conservatives required the government to pay Davie $89 million should the project not proceed.

The minister said the government will “undertake a review of the process” for sole-source contracts for military procurement.

Davie’s work should be completed within two years and the ship is contracted to serve the navy for a period of five years, with an option to renew for up to another five.

The Quebec shipyard estimated the government contract will create 1,100 jobs with the yard, and another 400 with sub-contractors.

Opposition Parti Quebecois member Martine Ouellet said Davie deserved the contract because the yard was left out of the national shipbuilding program.

Without replenishment ships, the navy’s frigates are forced to rely on other nations for ammunition, fuel and food while on long overseas deployments.

It also affects the navy’s ability to deploy more than one warship at a time.

Davie is located in Levis, across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City.

UPDATE: February 21, 2016

The Maritime Log published at the end of January, 2016 that OSI Supply was selected to provide the Integrated Navigation system for Project Resolve.

The Burnaby, BC, headquartered OSI Maritime Systems (OSI) has signed an agreement with shipbuilder Chantier Davie Canada Inc. to provide an Integrated Navigation and Bridge System (INBS) for the interim fleet oiler currently being created at its Lévis, Quebec, shipyard.

"We are extremely pleased to be working with Davie on this very innovative project that requires taking a commercial ship and converting it into a military vessel," said OSI President and CEO Ken Kirkpatrick. "We all benefit, from East to West, when Canadian projects are built by Canadians."

As part of the agreement, OSI will deliver and install an INBS on the Resolve-Class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ship. The project involves the conversion of the container vessel M.V. Asterix into an Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (AOR) ship designed to meet the Royal Canadian Navy's (RCN) supply ship requirements.

"There is an imminent need for the ship," said Mr. Kirkpatrick, "and as such we expect an aggressive build schedule – it's an exciting project, and we'll emulate the design we are providing for the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship program, this will benefit the RCN by providing it with a technically advanced navigation system and an opportunity to encourage bridge design commonality across the fleet."

"By selecting OSI for the Resolve-Class AOR, we are ensuring commonality across the RCN's future fleet as well as helping to strengthen the entire Canadian marine industry," said Alan Bowen, CEO of Davie Shipbuilding. "The bridge and propulsion systems onboard the Resolve-Class AOR will feature certain enhanced functions which will be unique to this class of ship."

OSI's Integrated Navigation and Tactical System (INTS) is a fully scalable, IMO and NATO STANAG 4564 WECDIS compliant INBS that offers a flexible design able to meet the requirements of demanding military environments. Centered around OSI's ECPINS, INTS integrates selected radars and navigation sensors, providing a comprehensive and cost effective military IBS.

Another announcement out of British Columbia for the Royal Canadian Navy's iAOR Project Resolve.

RaceRocks of Victoria, BC, recently signed a contract with Project Resolve Inc. to act as the tier-one training provider for the Royal Canadian Navy’s Resolve-Class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ship, MV Asterix, which is now under conversion at Chantier Davie Canada Inc. in Quebec.

RaceRocks had previously signed a Letter Of Intent with Project Resolve in September 2015. The LOI allowed RaceRocks to commence its activities and collaborate with Project Resolve on planning the training requirements until the Liberal government awarded, in late November, the contract to proceed with the ship conversion.

RaceRocks will now complete all activities required to deliver the requisite training systems for the Resolve Class AOR by the spring of 2017. The work will be executed by a pan-Canadian team with RaceRocks as prime, as well as with sub-contractors in Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec.

“It’s important to note that we did an extensive survey of the naval training service providers situated here in Canada and we determined very quickly that RaceRocks and its exclusive Atlantic partner, Modest Tree of Halifax, not only provide the most cutting-edge naval training solutions available, but are able to do so at a fraction of the cost,” Spencer Fraser, Project Resolve Inc CEO, said in a statement.

Update: March 7, 2017 

Davie Shipbuilding, the contractor in charge of constructing the Royal Canadian Navy’s Resolve-class auxiliary oiler replenishment vessel, has subcontracted ALMACO Group for the delivery of a superstructure for the vessel.

Project Resolve consists of converting a containership, former MV Asterix which arrived in Lévis, Canada, in October 2015, into an Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) ship in order to support the operations of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Under the contract between the two companies, ALMACO will deliver a single structure to be integrated to the hull at the Davie shipyard.

The scope of work included the full EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contract for the living quarter superstructure including cabins, public areas, galley, provision stores, wheelhouse and technical spaces.

The superstructure was built in Finland and will be shipped as one single structure to be integrated on top of the vessel’s hull by Davie. The remaining parts of the superstructure that were not outfitted will be completed by Davie once it is integrated to the hull. The superstructure will have a transport weight of 2200 tons.

“We are proud to be part of this project where ALMACO and Davie will combine Finnish shipbuilding expertise with Canadian shipbuilding capabilities to the great benefit of the vessel’s end users and to meet the timeline for the delivery of the superstructure,” Vilhelm Roberts, ALMACO Group’s president and CEO, said.

Project Resolve was initiated as previous plans to replace Canadian aging oilers included a failed Joint Support Ship plan from 2008 and the Queenston-class multi-role vessels are not expected to join the Navy before 2020-2021.

According to Canadian media reports, the conversion process will cost the nation’s taxpayers CAD250-300 million and the undertaking is expected to be delivered for service in the summer of 2017.