Icebreakers: Davie’s solution

(Sept-Iles) Shipyard Davie and its partners believe they have the key to solving the lack of capacity of the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreakers and at the same time ensuring the creation of “hundreds of jobs” at the Lévis shipyard.

The Resolute project would provide Ottawa with the “immediate” availability of four “very low cost” icebreakers. How? By modifying the four “powerful” and “modern” ships set aside with the abandonment in 2015 of the vast drilling and petroleum exploration project that the giant Shell in the Arctic was to lead.

“We are able to fill the gap that exists today,” says CEO of Federal Fleet Services, project partner Spencer Fraser. In the fall, the federal government called on industry to find rapid solutions to the decline in the availability of the Canadian icebreaker fleet.

An invitation to which the consortium responded, even though he said he had already sensitized Ottawa to his project, on the drawing board for a year and a half, but unveiled Friday in Montreal. “We have done our homework, we have prepared the situation […] We are ready. We want to find a solution for the coast guard, “says Fraser.

The company said it had developed “business relations” with the owners of the icebreakers that Shell planned to use. “We have an opportunity right now,” he said. According to the data provided by the multi-company, a handful of icebreakers would be available for commercial use around the world.

Adapting the ships in the sights of the Resolute project would cost “half the price” to buy new ones. In addition, the consortium is offering a rental service in Ottawa, which would reduce the government’s financial risk, he said. “We have come up with something innovative and flexible, really a la carte for the government,” says Fraser.

Benefits for Quebec

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If the project gets the go-ahead from Ottawa, the four icebreakers will be modified at the Lévis shipyard, one of which is the “largest” free ship of its kind across the planet. We are essentially talking about adding cabins to accommodate larger crews and the development of a “flight deck” for helicopters and hangar.

“It could generate hundreds of jobs and spin-off benefits that are very important to Quebec,” says Mr. Fraser, without quantifying them precisely for the time being. But Ottawa must “get into action very quickly” because the consortium fears a resumption of oil projects in the north if prices recover and “these boats are picked up elsewhere”.

“We’re ready to maneuver right now,” says Fraser. “As icebreakers, they can work now … If they were in Quebec today, they could be used immediately … We want to work with the government to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”

Viking, an icebreaker operator, is also a member of the consortium with Davie and Federal Fleet Services. Edison Chouest and Groupe Océan are also partners, confirmed Mr. Fraser.