Seaspan Shipyards completes prototype block for Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaker

Seaspan Shipyards (Seaspan) has completed the construction of the prototype block for the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) Polar Icebreaker program. 

Seaspan Shipyards

Seaspan developed and built this prototype block to ensure that the production teams are fully prepared to cut steel on the Polar Icebreaker in late 2024.

The process of building the prototype block resulted in learnings in three key areas: improvements in design for manufacturing; testing of new equipment, processes and procedures; and validation of first-time quality in manufacturing to form and weld this new, specialized and thicker steel.

“Having the opportunity for our engineering and production teams to work collaboratively to construct this Prototype Block very early in the design process was beneficial not only to Seaspan, but also to our customer and our cross-county supply chain. We are all working toward the same goal of delivering the Polar Icebreaker to the Canadian Coast Guard. Our skilled trades team has now seen, felt, tested, and worked on this specialized steel, so we are now better prepared to ensure that Seaspan begins full rate construction with a more mature design,” said Martin Edwards, Chief Program Officer at Seaspan Shipyards.

The steel needed to construct the Polar Icebreaker is twice as thick in some areas as the steel Seaspan has used for the other ships built under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

It also takes additional time to weld, and the thicker steel is not as malleable, therefore constructing this extra prototype block prior to starting full-rate construction was crucial for our preparedness.

“The completion of the Prototype Block for our Polar Icebreaker is an important milestone for the Canadian Coast Guard. We eagerly await its delivery as this vessel will extend Coast Guard on-water operations and ensure the continuous delivery of critical services in the high Arctic. This includes search and rescue, environmental and humanitarian response, supporting important ocean science and arctic sovereignty,” said Mario Pelletier, Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard.

With Canada’s current largest Icebreaker, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, set to retire at the end of the decade after 60 years of service, the new Polar Icebreaker will be one of the world’s largest and most powerful conventional icebreakers.

The ship will be the flagship vessel of the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaking fleet, with a critical mission of protecting Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.