The federal government has announced a $500-million project to replace two aging docks at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Monday the existing wooden jetties will be replaced with steel docks that can accommodate four frigates, two patrol ships, one supply ship and two submarines.

MacKay said the high-tech docks will benefit both the Canadian Forces and the local economy.

"Although the project is still in the design phase, we expect that Esquimalt and the surrounding region will see significant economic benefits from this project when it’s fully underway," MacKay said.

The minister said the contract should sustain up to 1,400 jobs over the life of the project.

MacKay said he expects construction will be completed in 2017.