Canada's Leading Defence Magazine




Why this supply ship may be a better option for Canada’s Navy than JSS

As you will learn from our Cover Story in this issue, the new Resolve Class supply ship being built by Federal Fleet Services at the Davie Shipyard in the Quebec City area, is the latest chapter in a long and convoluted story about the search for a suitable (read price and capability) AOR ship for Canada’s navy, but fortunately this story has a happy ending because, surprise, surprise, this naval project is on schedule and on budget.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the JSS program which, as part of NSS (National Shipbuilding Strategy), was originally scheduled to deliver 4 AOR supply ships to Canada’s navy by 2012. Well, it is now 2016 and we have still not received those JSS ships, as a matter of fact, as you will read in the article prepared by CDR’s Tim Mahon in this issue, the JSS ships will probably not enter service before 2027!

As well, the original plan for 4 JSS ships has now been cut back to 2 which is certainly less than ideal. Currently, with both HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver now out of service, Canada has had to borrow supply ships from the navies of Spain and Chile just to ensure it can continue to operate its naval task groups in some kind of normal fashion.

And, then there is the ballooning cost of the JSS ships. As you will read in Tim’s piece, for each JSS ship, the Canadian government will pay as much as 4 times the cost of comparable supply ships recently acquired by countries like Germany, New Zealand and Australia. But, let us bear in mind that the original idea behind the NSS program was to allow Canadian shipyards like Seaspan, which won the non-combatant portion of NSS and is scheduled to build the 2 JSS ships, a chance to avoid the boom and bust cycle of years past. Sure, we could no doubt build ships cheaper in somewhere like South Korea or Taiwan but the idea was to help Canada’s shipbuilding industry retain a shipbuilding capability by offering them steady government contracts.

So, that brings us back to what Federal Fleet Services is doing with its Resolve Class supply ship. Again, as you will read in Tim’s very informative report, Federal Fleet Services, which has currently been contracted to build only one Resolve Class supply ship on an interim basis, has said it could construct an additional supply ship and deliver it at a fraction of the cost of a JSS ship by building in parallel – a capability not available to Seaspan.

Let’s review then. Federal Fleet Services is offering the Canadian Government the opportunity to acquire a fully capable supply ship at a fraction of the cost of a JSS ship, built in Canada, using numerous Canadian subcontractors and delivered many years in advance of the current JSS schedule. So, please remind us again, why is our government looking to pay at least $1.4 billion per copy for JSS ships that won’t be delivered until at least 2027?



Also in this issue, we present a new regular column we are calling Defence Business and in the inaugural piece Grant McDonald and Suzanne Nickerson of KPMG’s aerospace and defence practice write about how DND is uncovering over $1 billion in “operational savings”. We encourage CDR readers to follow this new column on a regular basis for special insights into the business of defence.


As regular CDR readers will be aware, Sept/Oct is CDR’s annual Training & Simulation issue where we talk about the latest developments in an industry where Canada is a world leader. CDR is a media sponsor at I/ITSEC, the world’s biggest military training show in Orlando, Florida where we regularly see many Canadian uniformed personnel test driving everything from military vehicle simulators to jet fighter sims. For a complete update on what’s going on in Training & Simulation in Canada please read Tim Mahon’s report in this issue of CDR.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Please fill out the following information to be added to our newsletter distribution list.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.