Polar icebreakers to strengthen Canada’s Arctic presence

Canada moves forward with the construction of two Polar icebreakers under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) to enhance the country’s Arctic presence.

Polar icebreakers to strenghtn Canada’s Arctic presence
Canadian Coast Guard file photo of CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent

Canada is reportedly in need of a renewed Coast Guard fleet due to the recent growth in commercial shipping, the impacts of climate change, and increased maritime activity in the Arctic.

The country currently has 18 icebreakers of varying sizes and capabilities with the largest one being the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent.

Two new Polar icebreakers, announced by the Government of Canada, will have capacity and ability beyond that of CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent. These will be the largest ships in the Coast Guard fleet, with each ship 150 metres long with a top speed of approximately 18+ knots and a range of approximately 30,000 nautical miles.

Both will be built by Canadian shipyards. One of the Polar icebreakers will be built at Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver, British Columbia, while the other will be built by Davie Shipbuilding of Lévis, Quebec.

The construction of these new ships is an addition to the $17.49 billion in contracts awarded to shipyards across Canada under the NSS.

At least one polar icebreaker is expected to be delivered by 2030 when the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is expected to retire from service. The precise timing of icebreaker delivery will be determined once shipyard agreements are in place.

With the new, larger, and more powerful Polar icebreakers, the Coast Guard will be enabled to conduct year-round operations in Canada’s Arctic. Their greater endurance will ensure they can operate at higher latitudes for longer periods.

Photo: Canadian Coast Guard file photo of CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent