Delivery date for Canada’s first Arctic patrol ship pushed back again

The future HMCS Harry DeWolf, seen alongside the Irving Shipbuilding facility in Halifax. The ship was launched in September 2018 but won’t be complete and delivered to the Canadian government until sometime next year. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)
The delivery date for the first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) built at the Irving Shipbuilding facility in Halifax has been pushed back once again, according to government officials.

The original delivery date was late 2018. In August, the Department of National Defence said it was hopeful its first vessel, HMCS Harry DeWolf, would be delivered by the end of 2019.

“It is now anticipated that delivery will occur in winter 2020, acknowledging that there remains some uncertainty,” said a statement from Andrew McKelvey, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence.

Irving Shipbuilding was selected in 2011 to build two new types of ships for Canada — the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels, and the larger Canadian Surface Combatants.

In February 2017, Kevin McCoy, the president of Irving Shipbuilding, spoke before a House of Commons standing committee and told government officials: “We expect to deliver the first AOPS, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf, at the end of 2018.”

Irving Shipbuilding now confirms the delivery will happen sometime in the first three months of 2020.

“With the need to re-establish a supply chain, a new ship design, a new shipyard, and a new and growing workforce, there was always the intent to revisit lead ship dates in partnership with out customer throughout construction,” said a statement from Sean Lewis, communications director for Irving Shipbuilding.

New ships, new challenges

The government agrees that some of the issues have been the result of this being the first ship of its class.

“While there have been delays in the process, the shipbuilder has learned lessons from the build of the first ship that will help ensure efficiencies in the construction of subsequent ships,” said Jessica Lamirande, a spokesperson with the Defence Department.

Irving Shipbuilding is scheduled to deliver six patrol vessels, roughly one per year over the next few years. The government is not certain how the other ships’ schedules will be affected.

However, the government anticipates Irving will be able to catch up to its original schedule and deliver the sixth ship on time.

Two additional ships, based on the AOPS design, will be built for the Canadian Coast Guard after the initial six-ship fleet is completed.

Overlapping build process

Even though the first ship has yet to be delivered, work is already underway on the second, third and fourth ships.

Irving launched the second ship, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, into the Bedford Basin over the weekend. Like HMCS Harry DeWolf, there is still lots of work to do after the official launch.

Once each build is complete, Irving will send the ship for sea trials. It then will offer the ship to the government to do acceptance trials. Once the government is satisfied, the ship is officially considered delivered.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Ottawa ‘explores options’ to build Canada’s polar icebreaker, Radio Canada International

China: Details of China’s nuclear-powered icebreaker revealed, The Independent Barents Observer

Finland: Finland’s aging icebreaker fleet needs modernization, Yle News

Norway: Arctic-bound Russian icebreaker gets Norway’s help following engine troubles, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: New Russian icebreaker will boost year-round shipping on Northern Sea Route, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: New U.S. icebreaker will focus on Antarctic, says Coast Guard boss, Alaska Public Media

Brett Ruskin, CBC News

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