The much heralded National Ship Procurement Strategy's (NSPS) wheel of progress have been mired in thick mud, seemingly unable to gain any real traction when it comes to actually cutting steel. Today, yet another blow to the program, a report
by the Parliamentary Budget Officer says that the $2.6 billion (yes, with a B), committed to the Joint Support Vessels in 2010 is simply not enough to build just two ships. Perhaps I missed the part that the ships ought to be gold plated.
In the mean time the Government has just released this "progress report
" highlighting their achievement on the NSPS file. There is allot of white collar and bureaucratic stuff going on, plenty of activity eating up budgets in reviews and re reviews and re planning and more planning exercises. Just how many times does one ship have to be designed, redesigned, and then redesigned again for good measure. I think that is a pretty good description of the JSS and Polar 8 (Diefenbaker), or the fisheries research vessel for that matter. I am happy that someone in the industry, namely the bureaucrats and the design firms are happily working but ultimately that does not fill the need for replacing the aging fleets.
The government touts the milestone in their report but it is still pretty vague on when the blue collars will actually get to work. And with two ships expecting to cost well over 2.6 billions that should be allot of work. Here is an article
that documents the milestones of the program from a more practical view.
On the ground, there is much frustration that I am sensing at the lack of real progress. However I understand from sources that the Fisheries Research vessel contract is nearly all but a done deal, with negotiations on the liabilities part of the contract all that is left. Maybe this will finally result in some steel cutting, which I am sure will created a huge photo op at Seaspan for the federal government - and perhaps a functional boat.
Over on the East Coast it would appear that Irving is well underway with the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels, I understand from numerous sources the propulsion package has been selected. Although this comment in the Halifax Herald
about the program would suggest the big contract winner to be the American Military Industrial Complex, reaping the major equipment supplier benefits.
“A former Irving employee said Irving Shipbuilding has reduced its
engineering team to about four members from about 14…. Months of work by
about 60 engineers will be done in Denmark by Odense Maritime
Technology…. Top level designs will be done by General Dynamics Bath
Iron Works of Maine in concert with Irving…. a sole-sourced contract for
the [Integrated Platform Management System] electronics package – from
steering to fuel lights — has gone to Lockheed Martin Canada.”
|AOPS from interwebs|
Back on the West Coast, Ron VanWachem is blasting the federal government and Seaspan, for its stranglehold on shipbuilding work, leaving small shipyards out. Mr. VanWachem is the President of the Nanaimo Shipyard group with operations in Nanaimo, Port Alberni, and Victoria, and is vocalizing his disappointment that the smaller yards have been left out of the program altogether, despite assurance of the opposite during NSPS celebrations.
After much time talking, there is no firm commitment on any work, and the yard is flirting with bankruptcy
. He mentioned on CBC radio that Seaspan's is further dominating the west coast shipyard sector, bolstered by major infrastructure upgrade, based on the NSPS work "guarantees". As a result, squeezing out the smaller yards of potential work, whatever that might be - in support of NSPS main contractor, or ship repairs and small vessel newbuilds.
As far as NSPS is concerned the drama continues, unfortunately the budgeted money set asides for the actual steel and equipment is vaporizing under bureaucratic double steps and inflation. We are maybe slightly closer than we've been since these ship replacement exercises started in the early eighties, but then again there is no steel being cut, as the years tick by...