Seaspan Shipyards Awarded $2.4 Billion Contract for Construction of Two Joint Support Ships for Royal Canadian Navy

Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards has been awarded a performance-based contract for the full construction of two Joint Support Ships (JSS) for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

The contract, valued at $2.4 billion, will allow the transition to full-rate construction of the first ship, the construction of early blocks for which began in June 2018, and then the second ship.

The contract was announced by Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, on June 15.

“We continue to work closely with the Canadian shipbuilding industry and its associated sectors during this unprecedented time for our country and the world. I commend the dedicated workers across the country for their continued perseverance in delivering on critical federal shipbuilding projects. This contract award is yet another example of our ongoing commitment to the National Shipbuilding Strategy, which is supporting a strong and sustainable marine sector in Canada”, said Minister Anita Anand.

“Our government continues to deliver on Strong, Secure, Engaged, with this contract marking an important milestone for our women and men in uniform. These new ships will provide a necessary capability for our Royal Canadian Navy, while providing significant economic benefits and jobs to Canadians, including thousands of jobs created or sustained right here in Vancouver and across Canada. An impressive amount of work has already gone into the construction of these new ships, and I look forward to their arrival in the coming years”, said Minister Harjit S. Sajjan.

Rendering of Protecteur-class Joint Support Ship (JSS) of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

The JSS will deliver fuel and other vital supplies to vessels at sea, offer medical and dental services, and provide facilities for helicopter maintenance repair. The presence of replenishment ships increases the range and endurance of operations at sea, allowing Canadian combat ships to remain at sea for significant periods of time without going to shore for resupply.

“The National Shipbuilding Strategy is generating more jobs and a strong domestic shipbuilding industry for our economy. As we work through this unprecedented time, it is good to know that Canadians working at Seaspan will have good jobs building these vital ships, along with those who work for their suppliers and in supporting industries”, said Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“I am pleased to see yet another milestone happen this year for our future joint support ships. With these warships, the Royal Canadian Navy will be able to operate with even greater flexibility and endurance. These ships will not only form part of the core of our naval task groups, they also represent a vital and strategic national asset that will enable the Navy to maintain its global reach and staying power”, said Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. was competitively selected as a strategic source of supply under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) in 2011. Its work package includes the construction of the RCN’s JSS.

The total JSS budget includes $3.1 billion for the purchase of the two ships and initial spares, as well as $1 billion for design and production engineering work, project management and associated contingency costs, resulting in a total value of $4.1B.

The design contract for the JSS project was awarded in February 2017, and early build construction began in June 2018. The first JSS is expected to be delivered in 2023, and the second in 2025.

Protecteur class Joint Support Ship (JSS)

The Joint Support Ship (JSS) vessels, also called Protecteur class after the lead ship, are a class of two naval auxiliaries being constructed by Seaspan Shipyards for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

The vessels will replace the underway replenishment (UNREP) capability of the now-retired Protecteur-class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) vessels, as well as provide strategic sealift and some airlift for the Canadian Army and the Navy, and command facilities for a Canadian Forces “joint force” or “naval task group”. They will be capable of conducting a wide range of military operations in high-threat environments.

Rendering of Protecteur-class Joint Support Ship (JSS) of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) replenishing an RCN frigate .

The Protecteur class vessels are based on the German Navy Type 702 Berlin-class replenishment ship design offered by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada (TKMS Canada). The final design was done by Seaspan and the Protecteur class is the fourth vessel class to be designed and built by Seaspan under the NSS.

The first vessel was named Protecteur after HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509) and the second will be named Preserver after HMCS Preserver (AOR 510), taking the names of the ships that they are to replace.

The vessels have a length of 173.7 meters, a breath of 24 meters, and a design displacement of nearly 20,000 tonnes. They are among the largest ships built on Canada’s West Coast and are the largest naval ship by length ever built in Canada once complete.

They ships will have a cruising speed of 15 knots, a top speed of 20 knots and a range of ~10,800 (20,000 km) nautical miles. They will have ice-edge capability to access Nanisivik Naval Facility in the summer navigation season.

The vessels will have a multi-purpose covered deck with the ability to carry up to 10,000 tonnes of ship fuel, 1,300 tonnes of aviation fuel, 1,100 tonnes of ammunition as well as 1,000–1,500 lane meters of deck space for carrying vehicles and containerized cargo. The vessels will also have hospital facilities as well as a large helicopter deck with two landing spots for the CH-148 Cyclone helicopters, hangar space for four helicopters, and a roll-on/roll-off deck for vehicles onto a dock.

The JSS will have a crew of up to 199 personnel plus its air detachment and mission personnel for a total of 239 onboard accommodations.

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