Seaspan Shipyards to Build Polar Icebreaker for Canadian Coast Guard

Seaspan Shipyards has been chosen by the Canadian government to design and build a Polar Icebreaker, the flagship of the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaking fleet, as part of the country’s National Shipbuilding Strategy program.

The icebreaker, Seaspan’s fourth class of NSS vessel, is to be built at the company’s Vancouver shipyard, Seaspan revealed in early May. The vessel is to be built concurrently with the second Joint Support Ship for the Royal Canadian Navy, one of the largest naval vessels by length ever to be built in Canada, and one of the largest and most advanced ocean science research ships for the Canadian Coast Guard.

With Canada’s current largest icebreaker, CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, due to retire at the end of the decade after 60 years of service, there’s a need to begin work on a multi-year replacement program.

The new icebreaker would be the largest ship in the Coast Guard fleet and will play a critical role in enabling the Canadian Coast Guard to patrol and protect 243,000 km of coastline, according to the CCG. Nearly 70% of the coastline is in the Arctic, a region of increasing interest from other countries and a growing national priority for Canada.

The multi-mission ship is also expected to provide vital resupply to Arctic communities, support Arctic science, help ensure the free flow of trade and safe commercial shipping, and conduct search and rescue and environmental response, according to the Canadian government.

Seaspan is set to work with Canada’s marine industry leaders on the icebreaker’s construction, including Genoa Design International in Newfoundland and Labrador and Heddle Shipyards in Ontario, along with hundreds of small and medium Canadian companies.

The new ship construction program is expected to sustain about 1,400 jobs at Seaspan’s Vancouver shipyard, as well as 1,400 additional jobs in the marine industry across the country.