Canada splits $7b of frigate upkeep work between three shipyards

Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigates will be maintained by three different shipyards following a government contract announcement on Thursday.

The contract was held by Irving Shipbuilding since 2011 but the company will now have to share work on the frigates with Chantier Davie Canada Inc. and Seaspan Victoria Shipyards.

The combined value of the three contracts to maintain the 12 vessels until the end of their operational lives will be approximately CA$7 billion (including taxes). The frigates are expected to remain in service for another 20 years.

Irving Shipbuilding representatives have argued in the past that sharing work on the frigates would mean the company would have to lay off workers due to a gap between the arctic offshore and patrol vessel and the Canadian Surface Combatant program. Frigate maintenance was expected to help bridge this gap and prevent layoffs.

“Our government is taking measures to ensure that our modernized Halifax-class frigates are able to continue to protect Canadian waters and contribute significantly to international operations,” Canadian defense minister Harjit S. Sajjan said. “These contracts will ensure that our frigates remain operationally ready while increasing the number of jobs and strengthening the ship maintenance capacity in Canada as outlined in our National Shipbuilding Strategy.”