The budget for Canada’s new ocean research flagship increased 28 per cent this year, rising from $995 million to $1.28 billion.
Construction of the marine oceanographic scientific vessel is underway at the Seaspan shipyard in North Vancouver, BC, as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
It will replace the decommissioned Canadian Coast Guard cutter Hudson, now in a demolition yard, to conduct scientific and ocean mapping missions in Atlantic Canada.
The marine oceanographic science vessel is the key platform for tracking climate change in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Delivery is expected in 2025 and the ship will be based in Dartmouth, NS.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says Public Services and Procurement Canada updated the budget this summer.
Inflation and other factors attributed to the latest increase
“In June 2023, the project obtained additional contractual construction authorities to reflect new and updated information related to the impacts of COVID-19 on the shipyard, higher than expected inflation and global supply chain challenges, a design of production and materials costs,” DFO spokesperson Craig Macartney said in a statement to Breaking:.
Macartney said the amount includes concept and design work, engineering and construction costs, all construction materials and equipment, warranty, insurance, spare parts, training, project office costs, contingencies and contractually permitted adjustments related to labor costs, currency and commodity fluctuations. No tax included.
The estimated budget has increased by more than a billion dollars
It was originally expected to cost $109 million with delivery in 2017. Since then, the price has increased tenfold and delivery has been moved to 2018, 2021, 2023, 2024 and now 2025.
One factor in the delay was Ottawa’s decision to bring forward construction of the Royal Canadian Navy’s joint support ships at Seaspan. First of all, the deep-sea oceanographic scientific vessel had to be built.
CCGS Sir John Franklin, CCGS Captain Jacques Cartier and CCGS John Cabot were delivered, all late, at a cost of $788 million.
There have been mistakes, no one can deny that,” says Richard Shimooka, a British Columbia-based ship procurement specialist.
But he’s willing to give Seaspan and the federal government some leeway over recent problems.
Shimooka says inflation and other pressures are affecting shipyards around the world. Canada has started its program practically from scratch.
“We don’t have the muscle memory to address some of these issues as well as other countries, so we may have more cost increases,” Shimooka told Breaking:.
In a statement to CBC, Ali Hounsell, director of communications for Seaspan, said work on the vessel is 60 per cent complete and on track for delivery in 2025.
Hounsell said that while there has been an increase in cost projections, “Seaspan has continually worked to optimize our operations and supply chain, including our shipbuilding facilities, to stay on schedule and keep costs down.
“Our ability to equip a ship with more detailed and advanced systems early in the construction process is a key factor in saving time and money. All of these efforts to drive improvements make each ship we build more efficient than the last” .
The offshore oceanographic scientific vessel is the largest and most complicated of the fisheries scientific vessels built for the Canadian Coast Guard by Seaspan under the National Shipbuilding Program.
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