The Royal Canadian Navy’s first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf, is assembled at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard in December 2017
The Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence has updated the status of a number of its major procurement programs including the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships which it says will be fully operational by 2025.
Under the schedule the first ship is to be delivered sometime this summer to the Royal Canadian Navy but won’t be operational until 2020, according to the update. Other ships will follow over the years with the fleet being declared fully operational in 2025, according to the schedule. Each ship will go through various tests and sea trials, with ships being brought on line as those are finished and crews are trained.
The Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, or AOPS, being built by Irving Shipbuilding, were announced in 2007 by then prime minister Stephen Harper. The vessels were supposed to be in the water by 2013. But the program has faced delays. Critics have also questioned why Canada is paying around $400 million per ship when Denmark received similar vessels for $70 million each.
In November 2018 the Liberal government announced it was building a sixth Arctic patrol ship to add to the five originally commissioned from Irving Shipbuilding. But it acknowledged that ship will cost taxpayers $800 million — double the price-tag of each of the other vessels.
The Liberal government announced the construction of the sixth AOPS after a push by Irving and its employees for additional work. The project was originally to build five AOPS and only proceed with a sixth if Irving could find savings and work within the existing budget. That didn’t happen, Department of National Defence officials noted.