Canadian shipbuilders concerned over possible foreign tug lease for Royal Canadian Navy

Shipbuilding Association of Canada, the voice of Canada’s shipbuilding industry expressed concerns over recent reports that the Canadian government may lease foreign built tugboats rather than build replacement tugs for the Royal Canadian Navy at home.

Several media reports in the recent days said the Canadian federal government didn’t think it necessary to build smaller boats for the Royal Canadian Navy at home, but rather lease them from shipbuilders outside Canada.

By doing so, the government would seem to be undercutting Canada’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, a program designed to replace the ageing fleet of the Navy and create jobs at home, as it was advertised by the Conservative Party of Canada.

Additionally, Canadian National Post reported that the country’s public services and procurement agency confirmed that tugs and fireboats that would be acquired/leased didn’t have to be Canadian-made.

Former vice-Admiral Peter William Cairns, president of the Canadian Shipbuilding Association, said: “Canada’s shipbuilding and maritime industry is fully capable of supplying all of Canada’s shipbuilding needs.”

“In the current economic climate, when the priority should be to put Canadians back to work, the Canadian government mustn’t use Canadian tax dollars to support foreign shipyards.”

Under the previous government’s wanting National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, Canada’s smaller shipyards were supposed to build small vessels, like tugboats. “While everyone agrees that major reforms are needed to ensure that the government gets the type and number of ships it needs at a reasonable price and on time, buying foreign-built ships does nothing to help build a strong Canadian maritime industry and puts Canadian jobs at risk,” Cairns added.

The Shipbuilding Association of Canada represents Canadian shipyards, marine equipment suppliers, commercial ship operators, ship designers, marine engineering firms and major marine defense industry suppliers and has been representing the marine industry in Canada for over 25 years.