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The delivery of the first of the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships has been delayed once again, but Defence department officials are hopeful the vessel will arrive some time this year.
The Royal Canadian Navy and the Department of National Defence had expected the first of the Harry DeWolf-class ships to be delivered in the summer. That won’t be happening, confirmed DND spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande.
“Given the complexity of delivering a first-of-class ship, some delays have occurred,” Lamirande noted. “The ship is scheduled to proceed to sea trials in September, and the forecasted final delivery has shifted to beyond the summer timeframe.”
No specific time frame has been set for the delivery but Lamirande noted the first vessel will still arrive sometime in 2019.
She said once Irving Shipbuilding finished its sea trials on the ship, the Canadian Forces will begin its own acceptance trials.
Sea trials are a critical part of the construction of any type of vessel, Lamirande said. “During the trials, vessels are tested in high seas to ensure they can safely navigate in any scenario. If any issues do arise, they can be addressed immediately by the supplier prior to the final delivery to the Canadian Armed Forces.”
Lamirande said the delay is not expected to affect delivery timelines of the other Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships or AOPS. Four ships are currently in production at Irving’s Halifax Shipyard.
The Royal Canadian Navy is acquiring six ships.
In January 2015 the federal government announced it had awarded Irving a $2.6 billion contract to build five ships. In 2018 that deal was expanded to add a sixth vessel.
Irving did not provide a timeline on when the first ship will be ready. In an emailed statement the firm noted that its Halifax Shipyard is in the final stages of preparing for the sea trials. “Our team is working hard and seeing great results,” the firm noted in a statement it attributed to Irving Shipbuilding president Kevin McCoy.
The first ship was to be delivered in 2013, with Arctic operations set for 2015, but ongoing problems with the government’s national shipbuilding program and delays in awarding the contract continued to push schedules back.
“We are working closely with Canada and looking forward to seeing the first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship at sea and subsequent delivery of this tremendous new capability to the Royal Canadian Navy,” noted the email sent Tuesday by Irving.
In 2017 the Senate Defence Committee raised concerns about the vessels’ capabilities. “This (concern) is based on the fact that these ships cannot operate in ice more than a metre thick, are slower than a BC Ferry, can only operate in the arctic from June to October and will require a coast guard escort when in the northern waters,” the senators pointed out in their report. These capabilities should be independently reviewed to meet Canada’s sovereignty needs, they added.
The Senate also noted that the ships “will lack significant force projection in the form of weapons system.”
“These limitations are troubling and raise the question of whether the taxpayers are receiving value for the monies spent,” the Senate report said.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019