By David Akin
A Quebec shipyard hopeful of getting more federal work has condemned a storied Coast Guard ship as beyond repair, declining to bid on a lucrative contract to overhaul the 56-year-old CCGS Hudson on the grounds that it “presents a serious and real threat to the safety of life at sea.”
In a letter delivered Tuesday to officials with Public Services and Procurement Canada, Davie CEO Jared Newcombe said his company, based in Lévis, Que., would not bid on the contract to upgrade the Hudson as Davie believes the vessel to be beyond repair. A copy of that letter was provided to Global News.
The federal government was trying to squeeze another few years of service out of the Hudson which, having been commissioned in 1963, is the oldest ship in the Coast Guard’s fleet. Bidding on the life-extension contract, expected to be worth about $20 million, ended this week.
It is the latest headache to bedevil a federal shipbuilding process that has been rife with delays. Davie’s remarkable letter — procurement experts cannot recall a bidder ever recommending scrapping a major vessel when offered a chance to upgrade it — underscores the difficulties successive federal governments have had in updating an aging Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy fleet.
“The Coast Guard ships are in serious need of replacement now,” said David Perry, a defence procurement expert and senior analyst at the Ottawa-based think tank, the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. The average service of a Coast Guard ship is about 36 years. Canada’s Maritime peers typically replace their Coast Guard vessels within 30 years of service.
The Harper government announced in 2007 that the Hudson was to be replaced by 2012 and the contract to replace her was awarded to Vancouver’s Seaspan shipyard. But that project is mired in delays and it is not clear when there will be a replacement. There is not yet a confirmed date for construction to start while the projected budget of $331 million to build the Hudson’s replacement is under review.
The Hudson did have a $4-million refit in Hamilton, Ont., in 2016, and has had more work done on it since it returned to its East Coast port in Dartmouth, N.S., in 2017.
But Davie told the government that, in its view, the Hudson has now reached the end of the line.
“The level of degradation to the hull, fuel tanks, onboard systems and other structural elements presents a serious and real threat to the safety of life at sea as well as the environment,” Newcombe wrote. Newcombe said his company had to consider its own liability should it have won the current life extension contract, “as well as ethical, repetitional and environmental considerations.”
Full article: https://globalnews.ca/news/4884924/coast-guard-ship-cant-be-fixed-canada-shipbuilding-problem/