Harry DeWolf-class offshore patrol vessel
|Operators:||Royal Canadian Navy|
Harry DeWolf-class offshore patrol vessel is a Government of Canada procurement project for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) that is part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The class was previously referred to as Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPS).
The vessels have been speculated to be modelled on the Norwegian Svalbard-class and as of 2007 are projected to cost $3.1 billion CAD to construct with a total project procurement budgeted to cost $4.3 billion in order to cover maintenance over the 25 year lifespan of the vessels.
In 2006 Prime Minister Stephen Harper had spoken about building three to four icebreakers capable of travelling through thick ice in the Arctic Ocean. In 2007 it was announced that the Canadian Forces would purchase six to eight patrol ships having an ice class of Polar Class 5, meaning that they were capable of limited ice breaking, based on the Svalbard-class. This announcement was met with some controversy, and the proposed ships have been called "slush-breakers", by Dr. Gary Stern, a scientist aboard CCGS Amundsen, and Jack Layton of the NDP. However, it is notable that of the nineteen Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers currently in service, only six have a Polar Class higher than PC 5.
In 2010 the Arctic Patrol Ship Project was grouped with several other federal government ship procurement projects for the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard into the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The NSPS announced on October 19, 2011 that Irving Shipbuilding would be awarded the $25 billion contract for building six to eight Arctic patrol ships as well as fifteen other warships for the RCN over the next two decades.
In April 2013, the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives released a report on the proposed AOPS. The report was written by UBC Professor Michael Byers and Stewart Webb. The report's conclusions was that Canada would be better suited to have purpose built ships, namely icebreakers for the Arctic and offshore patrol vessels for the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
In May 2013, the CBC revealed that the projected cost of the design phase of the project was many times what other countries paid for similar ships based on the same Norwegian class for design, construction, and full-up operational deployment of multiple ships. Design is usually projected to consume 10-20% of the project cost. The projected design cost of the ship class is $288 million, versus an expert cost estimate that they should only cost $10–15 million to design. The Norwegians spent $100 million for the initial design and fielding of the first unit, KV Svalbard. The Danish built two ships for $105 million, and the Irish did the same for $125 million.
In September 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the name of the first ship in the class would be Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Harry DeWolf, named in honour of wartime Canadian naval hero Harry DeWolf, and that the class would be named the Harry DeWolf class.
In December 2014 it was found that not enough money had been projected to cover the cost of building the 6-8 planned ships and that the budget would need to be increased, delaying the signing of the contract.
The vessels' design was initially intended to incorporate a conventional icebreaking bow for cruising, and would have proceeded backwards for breaking heavy ice. The vessels' stern would have been designed for ice breaking and they would have employed azimuth thrusters for propulsion and for chewing through resistant ice. However, due to cost constraints, a conventional bow-first design was chosen for both light and heavy icebreaking. The propulsion would be provided by diesel-electric twin shafts with bolt on propellers, similar to existing Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers.
The vessels will have a hangar and flight deck capable of employing and maintaining the same maritime helicopters as the RCN's other vessels; the CH-148 Cyclone when it enters service with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), as well as the CH-149 Cormorant.
In 2008, a contract was awarded to BMT Fleet Technology and STX Canada Marine to assist in developing technical specifications and a design for the project. The technical specifications were to be used to draft a Request for Proposals. The government later awarded a design contract to BMT Fleet Technology and STX Canada Marine to develop the design of the vessel for issue to the selected NSPS proponent.
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Limited as an icebreaker, critics have disparaged AOPS as 'slush breakers' of limited utility. As offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), AOPS are burdened with the vast weight of icebreaking hulls unnecessary for that role. Carrying that extra bulk around in temperate seas mean that AOPS will be relatively slow while fuel costs and similar operating expenses are very high.
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