Through Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, our government is providing our Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) sailors with a modern and versatile fleet of ships to support operations in Canadian waters, and abroad. This fleet includes new Canadian Surface Combatants, Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, and Joint Support Ships.
Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, on behalf of Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, joined by Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, and Mark Lamarre, CEO of Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, took part in a ceremonial keel laying event for the first of two Joint Support Ships (JSS). The keel laying event is a significant milestone in a ship’s construction where a newly minted coin is placed near the keel, which traditionally runs along the length of the ship. The coin was laid by Seaspan’s Senior Procurement Specialist Jeff Smith, a 45-year employee of the company. It will remain for the duration of the ship’s life, and is said to bring good luck for the builders and all those who sail in the vessel.
This first JSS, the future HMCS Protecteur, is being built for the RCN through the National Shipbuilding Strategy. HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver will replace the former Protecteur-class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessels. As a warship based on the German Type-702 Berlin-class design, the JSS will include sophisticated damage control and self-defence systems that will allow it to conduct a full range of military operations in high-threat environments. In addition to providing critical at-sea replenishment, these multi-purpose warships will also be capable of seamlessly integrating with any Canadian or allied naval task group, and will significantly extend the range and endurance of these groups through the provision of fuel, ammunition, aviation support, food, spare parts, and medical and dental care. Construction of the early blocks of the first JSS began in June 2018, with the delivery of the first ship expected in 2023.
“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.”
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence
“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. Today marks an important milestone in our shipbuilding journey, and I look forward to seeing its ongoing progress in the future.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada
“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 Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada
“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. 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.”
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation Science and Industry
“Today’s ceremony marks another critical milestone in the renewal of the Royal Canadian Navy Fleet via Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy. 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.”
Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy
The first “grand-block” of the first JSS was assembled in November 2019. A “grand-block” is formed when four large ship blocks comprising more than 160 tons of steel are joined together. Three “grand-blocks” are currently in the process of being assembled.
While construction of the forward part of the ship is well underway, a contract for the remaining full construction of the first ship, the future HMCS Protecteur, is expected to be awarded in spring 2020.
The JSS are being built in modular blocks, and they do not have a traditional keel that runs the length of the ship. As a result, the coin was placed in an area near the centre section of the ship.
The design for the lucky coin features the badge of the future HMCS Protecteur on one side, and the crests/logos of the key members of the Government of Canada and Seaspan Shipyards JSS project team on the back.
After the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, the JSS is the second class of Royal Canadian Navy ships to begin construction in Canadian shipyards, as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.