Ottawa sends science vessel to retirement

(OTTAWA) The federal government is being forced to retire one of the Canadian Coast Guard’s flagship science ships for at least a few years, crippling the nation’s ocean research capabilities.

Posted at 4:56 am.

lee barthium
canadian press

The Canadian Coast Guard announced Wednesday that the weather has finally caught on ngcc hudson, which is 59 years old, and that the ocean research science vessel has been decommissioned, although a replacement will not be ready until at least 2025.

The tough decision came after one of the ship’s engines broke down last November and officials determined it was too expensive to fix and upgrade other older parts of the ship to meet the new regulations.

multiple cost overruns

The breakdown was the latest in a series of problems for the Coast Guard’s oldest ship in service, which has suffered millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades in recent years, in a desperate attempt to keep it afloat.

The investment was made necessary after several delays in the delivery of a replacement offshore oceanographic science vessel from Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyard, which was originally scheduled to complete construction of the new vessel in 2017.

In addition to delays, the new ship was subject to a number of costs. The Canadian Press reported this summer that the original $108 million budget had risen to nearly $1 billion.

Climate change

The Canadian Coast Guard is now scrambling to conduct what it describes as “critical” research on Canada’s oceans, which has become even more important because of concerns about climate change.

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“The Canadian Coast Guard is working closely with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to assess the short- and long-term impacts on programming and develop a plan to mitigate those impacts,” the agency said in writing.

“Discussions focus on what parts of the science program can be supplemented by other Canadian Coast Guard ships, by chartered vessels, or by the use of other technologies,” she adds.

Timothy Choi, a shipbuilding expert at the University of Calgary, says his losses will leave a void before Hudson’s replacement is ready, although it is too early to tell how extensive the damage will be.

“It is certain that our offshore research capability outside the Arctic will be constrained, although this depends on the alternative solutions they can find in the meantime,” he analyzed.

not a unique case

The Hudson is the latest federal ship to be retired before a replacement is ready due to delays in the government’s federal shipbuilding strategy.

The Royal Canadian Navy has been operating without a destroyer since 2017, with the first replacement not expected until at least 2032. These new ships will replace the Navy’s 12 Halifax-class warships.

The Navy has been forced in recent years to hire a converted civilian vessel as an auxiliary vessel since withdrawing its own ships in 2014. Seaspan is currently working on two permanent replacements, which have faced delays of their own.

Seaspan promised to deliver the first new support vessel in 2023 and the second in 2025 after recently completing the Hudson replacement. However, this already difficult timeline now appears to be uncertain.

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“The seaspan performs a delicate dance,” said Jeff Collins, a military procurement specialist at the University of Prince Edward Island.

“Any slippage on their part further delays replacement and runs the risk of driving up costs, especially in this time of inflation… time is king with the king [stratégie fédérale de construction navale], and especially for Seaspan,” he said.

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About the Author: Tad Fisher

Prone to fits of apathy. Music specialist. Extreme food enthusiast. Amateur problem solver.

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