The Canadian Government is providing sailors in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) with a modern, versatile fleet of ships to support operations in Canadian waters and abroad. The fleet is set to include new Canadian Surface Combatants, Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, and Joint Support Ships.
On January 16th, 2020, a keel laying event for the first of two Joint Support Ships (JSS) was held in presence of Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of environment and climate change by Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, and Mark Lamarre, CEO of Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards.
“The construction of this new ship represents an important investment in the capabilities of our Navy, while also providing significant economic opportunities for the local economy, especially for Canadians living here in North Vancouver,” said Wilkinson. “Today marks an important milestone in our shipbuilding journey, and I look forward to seeing its ongoing progress in the future.”
The keel laying ceremony marks a significant milestone in the construction of a ship, where a newly minted coin is placed near the keel. The coin was laid by Jeff Smith, Seaspan’s Senior Procurement Specialist, who has been an employee of the company for 45 years. The coin will remain in place for the duration of the ship’s life, as it is said to bring good luck for those building the vessel, as well as those who will sail in the vessel.
“Each milestone that we reach in building new ships for our Navy and Coast Guard represents the hard work and innovation of dozens of Canadian companies and thousands of workers that are part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation science and industry. “The placing of the lucky coin reinforces our resolve to maximize the economic benefits of building these ships in Canada, bringing highly skilled jobs and investments across the country.”
HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver will be replacing the former Protecteur-class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessels.
Based on the German Type-702 Berlin-class design, the new JSS will include sophisticated damage control as well as self-defence systems allowing the vessel to conduct a full range of military operations in environments holding high threat. Construction of the first JSS began in June 2018, with the expected delivery of the first ship being in 2023.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand explained, “Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, through its partner Seaspan, is delivering on its commitment to equip the Royal Canadian Navy with the ships it needs to serve Canadians at home and abroad. This work is part of our government’s plan to revitalize the Canadian marine industry and create good quality jobs in communities across the country.”
The JSS are being built in modular blocks, which has resulted in the vessels not having a traditional keel, which runs the length of the ship. As such, the coin was placed in an area near the centre section of the vessel. The lucky coin design features the future badge for HMCS Protecteur on one side and the crests of Government of Canada key members and the Seaspan Shipyards JSS project team on the reverse.
At the ceremony Commander of the Royal Canadian NavyVice-Admiral Art McDonald said, “Today’s ceremony marks another critical milestone in the renewal of the Royal Canadian Navy Fleet via Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.”
He added, “The Protecteur-class ships that the Joint Support Ship project is delivering will build on our Navy’s proud legacy of delivering excellence at-sea. Once delivered, these warships will be strategic assets that will once again afford Canada the sovereign capacity to deliver – even in harms way – an enduring at-sea replenishment and joint sustainment capability as well as significant Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief capacity. Having been present for the project’s initial steel-cutting in 2018, I’m delighted to see the continued progress that today’s event represents.”
Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan has mentioned, “Ensuring that our sailors have the modern and effective ships they need to carry out their work at home and abroad is critical for maintaining Canada’s maritime security. Today is an important milestone in the construction of our new Joint Support Ships. This critical investment helps build a stronger and more secure Royal Canadian Navy.”