OTTAWA—The Royal Canadian Navy is poised to enter a new era by taking possession of the first armed warship under the federal governments multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan, and the first built for Arctic military operations in decades.
HMCS Harry deWolf will be welcomed in a ceremony at Canadian Forces Base Halifax on Friday, five years after Irving Shipbuilding first started cutting steel on the Arctic offshore patrol ship—and two years later than originally scheduled.
Top navy commanders will be on hand to mark the occasion along with representatives from Irving, which is slated to build five more such vessels for the navy and two for the Canadian Coast Guard in the next few years.
While the deWolfs delivery is a major milestone for the federal governments shipbuilding plan—through which Ottawa is replacing nearly all of the large ships in the navy and coast guard—it wasnt easy coming.
Then-prime minister Stephen Harper first announced plans to build up to eight armed Arctic patrol vessels in July 2007 and Irving was selected in October 2011 to produce them before building replacements for the navys frigates and destroyers.
But the following years saw several cost overruns and delays in the program.
After work started on the deWolf in 2015, Irving said it would only be able to build five ships with the $3.1 billion budgeted for the project. The government ended up increasing the budget to $4.1 billion for six.
That money does not include the two ships for the coast guard, which are expected to cost about $400 million each.
Technical problems were also blamed for pushing the delivery date back several times. Then Irving closed its Halifax shipyard in March for several months because of COVID-19.
Despite those setbacks, University of Calgary professor Rob Huebert described the deWolfs arrival as an “amazing step forward” for the Royal Canadian Navy. Its the first vessel specially built for military operations in the Arctic since the 1950s.
And the timing couldnt come at a better time as more and more countries are starting to increase their interest—and military footprints—in the Far North as it becomes easier to access due to climate change, said Huebert, who is an expert on Arctic policy.
“Even the most profound Arctic exceptionalist who says the Arctic is just peace, love and Kumbaya will recognize there is a growing need to have at least a presence in the Arctic as it opens up and becomes a greater part of the geopolitical environment,” he said.
“But once again, this is going to now give us a capability to operate that we havent had since a short little period between 1956 to 57 with [HMCS] Labrador.”
The Labrador was an icebreaker bRead More – Source