December 6, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Ottawa’s Ice Breakers, Between Reality and Politics

Ottawa's Ice Breakers, Between Reality and Politics

If all goes as planned, Arvik 1 will arrive in Quebec port tomorrow.

This ship is different from the burden and chaos of the government strategy that came into force in 2010 and it still has not given birth to a new ice breaker.

Things have taken a long time in Canada, with Arvik 1 becoming the most advanced Canadian ice breaker operating in the Arctic in the coming weeks.

Fednav’s Arvik 1 icebreaker is heading to Canada after building a Japanese shipyard.

Photo: Fednav

Most recently from the Japanese Shipyard, it is owned by the Montreal Company Fednav, one of the leading international players in heavy maritime shipping.

Arvik 1 has a strategic and economic mission: to transport concentrated nickel from the Glencore mine in Nunavut to the port of Quebec.

The important thing is that the ship spends 12 months in Arctic conditions, undisclosed, which no one else in Canada can do., Fednow CEO Paul Pati explains.

Glencore could not bear the breaking point in its ore shipment. The Arvik 1 gives it the ability to be present and reliable because it can move through two meters of thick ice.

None of the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreakers are capable of operating in the Arctic during the winter.

Meanwhile, Ottawa’s polar ice breakers are only on paper and Paul Pati is shocked. We designed the solution for our client because we felt that the Coast Guard was not capable of doing anything. Yet we are an Arctic country. Is this normal?

Canada has lost precious years by postponing the construction of DefenseBaker, which was originally scheduled to begin in 2017.

Excellent naval strategy, intense lobbying of shipyards and regional political battles in the cabinet came to print the file.

Now Ottawa is not one, but two different polar ice breakers built on different sites. When will they be delivered? Not until 2030 if all goes well.

Ottawa is in catch-up mode in the changing geopolitical context.

Russia is investing heavily in modernizing and expanding its aircraft with a series of nuclear ice breakers. China, which has ambitions at the poles, is also gearing up with ships that will allow it to navigate the Arctic ice.

Arctica, an icebreaker powered by Russian nuclear power

The nuclear-powered Russian icebreaker Arctica departs from St. Petersburg harbor.

Photo: afp Getty Images / by OLGA MALTSEVA

The Americans, who are seriously behind Canada, are stepping on the accelerator and plan to build the newest polar icebreaker by the end of the year, which will be delivered in 2024.

Washington’s desire to develop a complex of icebreakers up to its marine behavior probably illustrates this change in Ottawa to build two polar icebreakers.

After all, Canada needs to gain sovereignty over the Arctic and Northwestern routes.

Amundsen Ice Breaker in Northwest Passage

The Amundsen Icebreaker navigates the northwest route.

Photo: Getty Im / Washington Post by Getty

Although liberal ministers have publicly stated that, it is hard to believe that domestic politics did not play a role in this decision.

As of last December, the Canadian Coast Guard had internally instructed companies to build and ship a single polar ice breaker at its shows.

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A few months before the election, the two ships are offering the opportunity to split work between shipyards in two parts of the country, where liberals want to maintain seats. But what happens next can be determined by one important factor: the cost of those two ice breakers.

The federal government, which has never ordered such large ships, has refused to put forward a number and will not place any order. He replied that everything would depend on the outcome of negotiations with the yards.

In 2010, the costs of a single ship were originally estimated at $ 20,720 million before being revised to $ 3.3 billion in 2017.

The cost of a single polar icebreaker is estimated at about $ 2 billion.

The future polar ice breaker of the Canadian Coast Guard

The future polar ice breaker of the Canadian Coast Guard

Photo: Canadian Coast Guard

Can’t Ottawa withstand just two polar ice breakers?

For Stefan Roussell of the National School of Public Administration, the question is all the more pertinent as pressure mounts from Washington, Ottawa to modernize the northern warning defense system.

The modernization is estimated to cost $ 11 billion. 40% of the invoice must be paid by Canada. These ice breaker projects are practically in competition.

Professor is one of the skeptics. Historically, of the major projects of this kind announced by the federal government, very few see daylight. The road is still very confusing and uncertain.

The intention to build a polar icebreaker at Davy Shipyard is reviving hope. The deal was conditional on the end of negotiations aimed at officially turning Davy into a third yard in the federal naval strategy.

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The government believes the talks are moving fast. Sources also say they are too difficult for Radio-Canada Painful. Davy asks Ottawa to invest in upgrading the site’s infrastructure. Both parties disagree and camp on their positions.

Davy is a shipyard employee

An employee at Davy Shipyard walks in front of a building.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mark Godmbout

Will the context of the early elections contribute to the debate? Who will first come to an agreement with Ottawa from Seapon or Davy?

For economic reasons, if there was only one polar ice breaker, where would it be built?

In Canada, recent history has shown that there is a global difference between announcing the construction of ships and their launch.

If the first polar icebreaker enters service in Canada in 2030, a total of 22 years will elapse between the initial project announcement and the launch of the ship.

How long did it take to build Fedenov Arvik 1 in Japan? Slightly less than two years.

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