Canadian shipyard Davie Shipbuilding cut first steel for the Royal Canadian Navy Resolve-class auxiliary oiler replenishment vessel during a ceremony held in Lévis, Québec, May 24.
Project Resolve, as the undertaking was dubbed, consists of converting a containership, former MV Asterix which arrived in Lévis in October 2015, into an Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) ship in order to support the operations of the Royal Canadian Navy.
This project was initiated as previous plans to replace Canadian aging oilers included a failed Joint Support Ship plan from 2008 while the Queenston-class multi-role vessels are not expected to join the Navy before 2020-2021.
The two existing Canadian Navy oilers HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver were expected to remain in service with the Navy until 2017 and 2016, respectively. However, a fire aboard Protecteur in February 2014 destroyed the ship and HMCS Preserver was sidelined due to rust and its general poor condition.
After the Protecteur was destroyed, Davie and its partners Aecon, NavTech and V.Ships set out to find an interim solution and after over one year of design, engineering and planning, an agreement was reached in August 2015 with the Government of Canada to provide At-Sea Support Services to the Royal Canadian Navy.
According to Canadian media reports, the conversion process will cost the nation’s taxpayers CAD250-300 million.
Lloyd’s Register (LR) will support the conversion process from the development of a safety certification regime with the Flag Administration and approval of design plans through to on-site supervision at Davie and commissioning of the new AOR ship.
The lack of support ships has forced the RCN to lease foreign navy replenishment ships. Spanish Navy auxiliary oiler and replenishment (AOR) ship Patiño (A-14) spent two months with the RCN starting in February 2016.
The RCN fleet is currently supported by the Chilean resupply ship Amirante Montt, while another Spanish replenishment ship, the ESPS Cantabria, is expected to deploy with RCN from Mid-September to November.
According to Davie shipbuilding, the converted vessel will be delivered for service in the summer of 2017.