Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Cut Heavy-Icebreaker Order from Vancouver Shipyard

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Cut Heavy-Icebreaker Order from Vancouver Shipyard

Article excerpt

Feds cut icebreaker from Vancouver shipyard

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OTTAWA - The federal government has quietly taken construction of the coast guard's next heavy icebreaker away from Vancouver shipyard Seaspan, the latest in a string of upheavals in Canada's multibillion-dollar shipbuilding strategy.

The government says no decision has been made on where the vessel will be built, but the move has nonetheless left Seaspan Shipbuilding's bitter rival in Quebec salivating after years of intense lobbying for the project.

Seaspan was tapped in 2011 to build the icebreaker, called the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, as part of a larger order that also included four science vessels for the coast guard and two navy supply ships.

But Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson's office says the icebreaker has been removed from the Vancouver shipyard's order book and replaced with 16 smaller vessels the government announced it was buying last month.

The government "made the decision to substitute the one polar icebreaker with a long run of 16 multipurpose vessels," Wilkinson's spokeswoman Jocelyn Lubczuk said in an email.

"Given the importance of icebreaking capacity, the government is exploring other options to ensure the (icebreaker) is built in the most efficient manner, but no decisions have been taken."

Specifically, said Lubczuk, the government is still weighing where the vessel will be built, though she insisted Ottawa is committed to the ship. Its $1.3-billion budget is currently under review as well.

Seaspan officials did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for Davie Shipbuilding, Seaspan's competitor in Quebec, was practically crowing with excitement on Wednesday, suggesting it was a forgone conclusion where the icebreaker will be built.

"We are the only shipyard that can deliver it," said Davie spokesman Frederik Boisvert. "I'm just stating the obvious. …

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