New navy supply vessel will go where the military orders it to

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first_imgHALIFAX – The new supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy will be able to go where it is tasked to go, says the company responsible for delivering the converted civilian vessel.Spencer Fraser, CEO of Federal Fleet Services, said Wednesday the Asterix, which will have a primarily civilian crew and captain, will serve where the navy determines it’s operationally needed.“If you look at the traditional employment of a replenishment ship it’s always held out of harm’s way and that’s one of your critical mission objectives is not to put it in harm’s way,” Fraser said in an interview.Still, Fraser said the vessel isn’t prevented from going where it’s needed.“There’s no area or ocean or sea at the moment where we cannot go with this vessel,” he said. “That’s an operational (navy) decision. Where we have an input is on the day-to-day safety at sea, but you would expect that of any captain of a vessel.”Fraser said the vessel will be based in Halifax for the next 10 years, creating about 100 direct jobs, and will be staffed by two, 36-member civilian crews.“Most of those crew are Nova Scotians,” he told a defence industry conference in Halifax.All of the engineers on board will be employees of Federal Fleet Services, Fraser said as will the deck personnel. The rest of the civilian crew will consist of cooks and stewards while the military would provide additional crew depending on operational needs.He said the vessel was completed at a cost of $650 million and would be delivered to the navy in Halifax before the end of the year, following a series of sea trials.It will then sail to the West Coast to take part in some naval exercises.Fraser said the company is pushing to build a second supply vessel, because the first of two replacement supply ships being built by Vancouver’s Seaspan isn’t expected to be delivered to the navy until 2020 at the earliest.Sister company Chantier Davie held a lavish ceremony to unveil the vessel at its shipyard in Levis, Que., in late July.The sole-sourced project was launched by the former Conservative government after the navy was forced to retire both of its 45-year-old resupply ships earlier than expected.The project was under a cloud earlier this spring after court documents revealed the RCMP suspected Vice-Admiral Mark Norman of having leaked cabinet secrets to keep the Liberal government from cancelling the project.No charges were laid against Norman, who was suspended from his position as the military’s second-highest officer in January. His lawyer has denied any wrongdoing.Davie has maintained that Norman was unfairly targeted for investigation.The Liberals green-lighted the project in the fall of 2015 after facing pressure from two companies that received contracts under the national shipbuilding program — Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax and Seaspan in Vancouver.Both firms wrote letters protesting the Davie deal.Fraser was asked about touting Davie’s capabilities in what amounts to Irving’s backyard in Halifax.“The last time I checked I don’t believe Nova Scotia is the monopoly of Mr. Irving,” he said. “This is a lot of jobs, this is a lot of work for local companies.”last_img

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