Ottawa to spend $2.5B on building dozens of new coast guard vessels
Money will provide 61 small vessels such as small craft, barges, work boats and modern equipment
The federal government says new money to build dozens of small vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard is part of a renewal of the agency and will help keep Canada's waterways navigable and safe.
On Thursday, in joint announcements in Vancouver and St. John's, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Ministry of Public Services and Procurement said the federal government would spend $2.5 billion to have companies in Canada build 61 small vessels for the coast guard.
The ministries said the new small vessels, which include small craft, barges and work boats, will allow the coast guard to better operate in shallow coastal waters and inland lakes and rivers where larger ships cannot go.
"This is a critical investment that will help modernize the Canadian Coast Guard's small vessel fleet," said Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray.
"We are making sure the Canadian Coast Guard has the equipment it needs to keep Canadians and Canada's waterways safe, while also creating good-paying jobs across the country."
Murray said the investment will provide the coast guard with dozens of different types of vessels such as inshore science vessels, enforcement boats and search and rescue lifeboats, completing the renewal of its small-vessels fleet.
WATCH | Canadian Coast guard explains the benefit of the investment in smaller vessels in B.C.
Speaking as part of the announcement in Vancouver, Capt. Susan Pickrell, senior director of the western fleet for the Canadian Coast Guard, namechecked one of the small vessels currently in use that the government is aiming to build more of.
"If you've ever been in trouble in the water, seeing a small vessel like the Laredo Sound can be the greatest feeling in the world," she said, referring to the search-and-rescue boat based out of the city's Kitsilano Coast Guard station.
As part of Canada's National Shipbuilding Strategy, smaller shipyards in the country will be able to bid on building the vessels. So far, Canada's shipyards have contributed 16 small vessels, 14 search and rescue lifeboats and two channel survey and sounding vessels to the coast guard.
The National Shipbuilding Strategy is a long-term, multi-billion-dollar program focused on renewing the coast guard and Royal Canadian Navy fleets.
The Davie Shipyard in Lévis, Que., Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax and Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver will not qualify to bid on building the small vessels as they are already involved in a program for larger boats.