Ottawa confirms $587M deal to build navy supply ship in Quebec

Source: Times Colonist / The Canadian Press
Date: November 30, 2015

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

The decision in favour of Davie is a blow to the west coast because it shuts out Victoria Shipyards and its workers. “We are disappointed by the Government of Canada’s decision, yet we certainly understand the Royal Canadian Navy’s need to find an interim solution for its fleet oilers,” said Jonathan Whitworth, CEO of North Vancouver-based Seaspan ULC, which owns Victoria Shipyard.

“Although Seaspan was prepared to offer an interim (auxiliary oiler replenishment) capability solution at our Victoria Shipyards, we are pleased to hear that Canada has reaffirmed its commitment to building the Joint Support Ship [non-combat ships] program at Vancouver Shipyard,” he said.

Last week, Whitworth had called for a competitive process, as did Irving Shipbuilding, of Halifax.

Victoria Shipyards and a workforce of 200 are available in summer 2016 to complete the project, at a lower cost and with a faster delivery, Whitworth said.

Seaspan is working with the Canadian Coast Guard to build the first of its new vessels, the offshore fisheries science vessel, he said. Construction is “well-underway” at Vancouver Shipyard. The company is manufacturing 15 of 37 blocks for the vessel, Whitworth said.

Meanwhile, Scott Dewis, CEO of RaceRocks 3D in Victoria, is “delighted,” with the federal decision. That firm will be working for Davie. “RaceRocks and its partner Modest Tree from Nova Scotia now have an amazing opportunity to develop a first in class platform to showcase training systems that align with the Future Naval Training System Strategy,” Dewis said.

Procurement Minister Judy Foote said the contract, which is valued at up to $587 million, will be given to Davie to upgrade a civilian tanker to act as a military replenishment ship.

“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 the navy’s 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.


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