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CCGS Project Resolute Icebreaker

Each winter, the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, Estuary, Gulf of St. Lawrence and the waters around the Newfoundland and Labrador Region become covered in ice, impeding the safe and efficient flow of maritime commerce. In the Arctic, harsh ice conditions become more manageable for marine shipping during the short summer navigation season. The Canadian Coast Guard (Coast Guard) provides icebreaking and ice management services to support the safe, economical and efficient movement of ships in Canadian waters. The availability of these services helps to ensure reliability and predictability of planning and scheduling activities of the marine transportation industry in ice-covered waters. In 2014, the value of Canadian international marine trade was $210 billion, up 4.3 percent from 2013.

The presence of a viable icebreaking service is one of the most important factors in sustaining the eastern Canadian and Arctic economies and communities, not only because maritime shipping is the most economical method of transporting large amounts of goods, but also from the perspective of linking these communities to the rest of Canada.

Since the Icebreaker Requirements (2011-2016) was developed, the fleet capacity has decreased by one vessel. As the Agency balances service delivery with required maintenance and vessel life extensions, one or two icebreaking vessels will need to be removed from service for extended periods of time each year until 2021-22.

Davie initially proposed leasing icebreakers to the coast guard in April 2016, after acquiring the rights to four vessels that were previously destined for use in Alaska's offshore oil and gas industry until a downturn in the market. The global downturn in the oil & gas market and a subsequent US government moratorium has lead to the cancellation of a major arctic drilling program (Shell’s Alaska program). The four modern, powerful and versatile icebreaking vessels owned by one US and one Scandinavian company which were destined for the Shell Alaska program are now being made available for the Canadian Coast Guard under Project Resolute. These ships are modern, proven, powerful, versatile and highly affordable. These vessels only require minimal alteration or re-configuration to the topsides (not hull or propulsion) to fully meet the needs of the Canadian Coast Guard.

  • Polar Class 3 m/v Aiviq was built in 2012 by North American Shipbuilders for use on the Shell Alaska drilling campaign. She is the world’s most powerful, privately-owned icebreaker. With Polar Class 3, this vessel is capable of operating in the harshest of environments. Built to tow large drilling rigs, m/v Aiviq is perfectly suited as a multipurpose, icebreaking towage and oil spill response vessel.
  • Polar Class 4 m/v Tor Viking II, m/v Vidar Viking, and m/v Balder Viking are three Norwegian-built icebreakers that have been used worldwide by both governments and corporations for a range of operations from arctic expeditions to government icebreaking and ice-management operations to search & rescue. The vessels are owned and operated by Viking Supply Ships, a world-leader in icebreaker operations.

The federal government on 18 November 2016 asked industry to begin drawing up options for providing icebreaking services, including the potential cost and availability, should they be required, of leasing from private companies. “Aging ships come with a greater risk of breakdowns and increased requirements for unplanned maintenance,” said Chris Henderson, the coast guard’s director general of national strategies. “This means we may face potential gaps in icebreaking services over the next five years.” The coast guard said it may need as many as five extra icebreakers at various times over the next few years as the current fleet goes through repairs and upgrades and a new polar icebreaker is built. Officials blamed increased demand caused by changing ice conditions and activity in the Arctic for their search for alternative icebreaking services for up to 20 years, and not bad planning.

The federal government launched negotiations in January 2018 for the lease of four icebreakers from Davie, the Quebec shipyard. The surprise move followed growing concerns about the coast guard's aging icebreaker fleet, which were highlighted earlier in the month when mechanical problems kept the service from helping a ferry trapped in the St. Lawrence River.

By June 2018 the federal government was close to a deal with Davie Shipbuilding that would see the Quebec shipyard provide several used icebreakers to bolster the Coast Guard’s aging fleet. Davie initially proposed leasing icebreakers to the coast guard in April 2016, after acquiring the rights to four vessels that were destined for use in Alaska’s offshore oil and gas industry until a downturn in the market. An agreement was imminent after months of intense – and at times contentious – closed-door negotiations. The pending deal represented a win for Davie and the Quebec government, both of which have been demanding more federal work for the shipbuilder after it laid off 800 workers at its shipyard in Levis late last in 2017.

It was not exactly what Davie originally proposed: the company wanted to convert three medium icebreakers and one heavy vessel and lease them to the coast guard, whose own fleet is nearing the end of its useful life. The company will do conversion work on the three medium icebreakers, sources say, but the coast guard will take full ownership of the vessels instead of leasing them. The two sides remained far apart on the heavy icebreaker, which Davie has been pushing hard despite strong reticence from senior coast guard officials who say it does not meet their needs.

To ensure the Coast Guard can continue to deliver these essential services, today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced 02 august 2019 that the Coast Guard will be procuring six new program icebreakers to replace its current aging fleet of icebreakers. Minister Wilkinson also announced, on behalf of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, that the Government of Canada is officially launching a competitive process, through an Invitation to Qualify, to add a third Canadian shipyard as a strategic partner under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). This new shipyard will build the new program icebreakers for the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard program icebreakers are essential to Canada's economy by supporting year-round marine trade in Eastern Canada, the St. Lawrence waterway and the Great Lakes. They enable eastern Canadian ferries to operate during the winter time, and are critical to Canada's commercial fisheries. The program icebreakers are also used to provide service to Canada's northern residents by supporting the annual re-supply of goods to Canada's Arctic communities and their industries.

"The Canadian Coast Guard saves lives at sea, maintains safe shipping, enables an otherwise ice-choked economy, protects the marine environment and supports Canadian sovereign presence in the Arctic. Demands on the Coast Guard will only grow as the impacts of climate change become more frequent and intense. By adding the new program icebreakers to renew the fleet, we are ensuring the women and men of the Canadian Coast Guard have the equipment they need to deliver icebreaking services in the Arctic, on the St. Lawrence waterway and on Canada's East Coast." The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Through the Invitation to Qualify, the Government of Canada will establish a short list of pre-qualified shipyards that will be eligible to submit a formal proposal to become the third strategic partner under the NSS, joining Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards.

The new program icebreakers will replace the Coast Guard’s heavy and medium icebreakers that operate in Atlantic Canada and the St. Lawrence waterways during the winter and in the Arctic during the summer. In Atlantic Canada, these program icebreakers help ensure year-long ferry service, escort ships through ice-covered waters and the clearance of ice from harbours and wharfs, which is essential to Canada’s commercial fisheries. In the Arctic, they provide icebreaking support to ships with vulnerable cargoes, such as dangerous goods and perishable products, and support vessels transporting cargo that is a vital part of the northern communities’ sealift and resupply.

Name AiviqTor Viking II
Balder Viking
Vidar Viking
Built 2012 (USA)2000 (Norway)
Classification ABSDNV
Ice-Class Polar Class 3 Polar Class 4
Gross Tonnage12,892 tons5,900 tons
Length 110 meters 84 meters
Beam 24 meters18 meters
Helicopter Yes + HangarYes + Hangar
Moonpool Yesno
Scientific spaces Yesno
Crane 2 x 15t SWL 1 x 25t SWL
Towage 200t BP200t BP
Power 23 MW 18,300 HP / 13.4 MW
Propulsion Conventional CPP +
Retractable Thruster
Conventional +
Retractable Thrusters
Dynamic Positioning DP 3DP 2 (AUT-R)

Aiviq Aiviq

Tor Viking II Tor Viking II


Tor Viking II

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Page last modified: 19-08-2019 16:18:30 ZULU