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“Mother ship” maiden voyage marks new era for Canada’s navy

Since 2016, Canada has relied solely on Chilean and Spanish fleets to resupply our warships at sea

The maiden voyage of Asterix—Canada’s new navy support ship—marks the official start of a unique private-public partnership between the Government of Canada, Davie Shipbuilding and Federal Fleet Services Inc.

For the first time in modern Canadian procurement history, the construction of a military-focused vessel was entirely privately financed. That means, all the technical and financial risk was borne by Davie and Federal Fleet Services.

Now that Asterix is sea worthy, Canadians start paying for it.

The project’s $659M price tag includes the construction of the vessel, the lease of its services to the navy for five years, maintenance, and the salaries of the civilian portion of the mixed crew of Canadian merchant seafarers and navy personnel.

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According to Spencer Fraser, the CEO of Federal Fleet Services, the ship is a bargain compared to estimates of future Joint Support Ships at $2.1B each and well worth the reward of our navy being independent once again.

Since 2016, Canada has relied solely on Chilean and Spanish fleets to resupply its warships at sea since the last of the Royal Canadian Navy’s support ship, HMCS Preserver, was retired. Before that, HMCS Provider retired in 1998, and Preserver’s sister ship, HMCS Protecteur, retired in 2015.

“The delivery of this ship is an innovation showcase for Canadian industry and marks an important new era in Canadian maritime power,” Spencer says. “[Asterix] once again allows the Royal Canadian Navy to independently deploy globally for combat, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.”

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Key Asterix facts

Type: Auxiliary replenishment vessel
Displacement: 26,000 tonnes (full load)
Length: 182.5M
Propulsion: 2 engines
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h)
Range: 19,000 km
Crew: 150
Armament: (provisions for but not fitted) 1 × Phalanx 20 mm cannon
Aircraft carried: 2 × CH-148 Cyclones or 2 × Boeing CH-147F Chinooks

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The ship’s construction

The 26,000 tonne vessel was designed by Rolls Royce to meet the highest and most stringent NATO and Lloyds Register requirements to support military operations by refueling and resupplying warships at sea.

Following common practice, also adopted by Canada’s key allies including the US Navy and Royal Navy, the Asterix was converted using the hull from a modern, high quality and ice-strengthened containership.

During the conversion, the ship was stripped down to its keel and rebuilt in a modular fashion, installing the same key Canadian military systems that will be installed on Canada’s future naval fleet such as Integrated Tactical and Navigation System by OSI based in Vancouver, Integrated Platform Management System by L3 MAPPS based in Montreal, and Replenishment-At-Sea Systems by Hepburn of Toronto.

It’s Canada’s first at sea hospital facility with a full operating theatre and has advanced aviation capability which can land all of the Canadian Armed Force’s helicopters including Chinooks.

Asterix took 24 months to deliver and employed over 1000 Canadian shipbuilders at Davie and provided contracts to 918 Canadian suppliers across the country. It is also the first large naval platform to be delivered from a Canadian shipyard in over 20 years and the first naval ship to be delivered since the launch of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

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