Nanisivik Naval Facility

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Nanisivik Naval Facility
Nanisivik, Nunavut
HMCS Goose Bay moored at the future site of the Nanisivik Naval Facility, during Operation Nanook, 2010-08-20.jpg
HMCS Goose Bay moored at Nanisivik.
Nanisivik Naval Facility is located in Baffin Island
Nanisivik Naval Facility
Nanisivik Naval Facility
Type Arctic Naval base
Site information
Controlled by Canadian Forces
Site history
Built Construction to begin in 2011
In use N/A

The Nanisivik Naval Facility is a Canadian Forces naval facility which is to be constructed on Baffin Island, Nunavut. The station will be built at the former lead-zinc mine site near the former company town of Nanisivik.


The community of Nanisivik was built to support the Nanisivik Mine, a lead-zinc mine on Baffin Island. The mine was serviced by a jetty for receiving ocean freight, later used by the Canadian Coast Guard for training,[1] and the Nanisivik Airport, which was capable of receiving jet aircraft and closed in 2011. Falling metal prices closed the mine in 2002.[2]

On August 8, 2007, CBC News reported that Canadian Forces documents showed plans to convert the site into a naval station. The plan would turn the former mine's existing port into a deepwater facility at a cost $60 million although total costs in 2011 were set at $175 million with an extra $12 million for the design.[3][4] On August 10, 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced construction of a new docking and refuelling facility in Nanisivik for the Canadian Forces, in an effort to maintain a Canadian presence in Arctic waters during the navigable season (June–October). The choice for Nanisivik as a site was partially based on its location within the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage, via Admiralty Inlet, and the existence of a deep-water berthing facility at the site, as well as a location of the airport. The United States Air Force's Thule Air Base is 600 km to the northeast.

Detailed planning for the project began in August 2007, with environmental studies and assessments being carried out in the summer of 2008.[5]

On 20 August 2010, the Kingston-class coastal defence vessel HMCS Goose Bay became the first Canadian warship to secure to the Nanisivik jetty as part of Operation Nanook. Two days later, the frigate HMCS Montréal secured alongside for a photo opportunity. The Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Henry Larsen was also present, but did not go alongside at that time.

In 2011 and 2012, the government started backing down on the Nanisivik conversion plans, explaining that construction in the far north is too expensive. The station will be primarily used for refuelling Arctic patrol and other government vessels, and construction is expected to begin in 2013, with the station operational by 2016.[6]


Once completed, the naval station will likely be home to the proposed Arctic off-shore patrol ships under the current Harper government plan.[7][8] These ships will have ice-breaking capability and help the current government's goal to enforce Canada's sovereignty over the region. These ships will likely allow the Victoria-class submarines to travel in the Arctic regions.


Engineering for the first of four phases of design for the facility is being completed by the British Columbia office of WorleyParsons for a cost of $900,000. This phase will include preliminary design work and construction requirements. Construction was expected to begin in 2011, and was expected to be operational by 2014.[9] However, it was announced in 2011 that construction would be delayed until 2013 as they are still in the design stage and the site would not be completed until 2016.[4] At the same time the decontamination of the site had not begun but was expected to start in summer of 2011.[10]

Presently the project is substantially behind schedule, as the company responsible for cleaning up the fuel tank farm (CanZinco, formerly a subsidiary of Breakwater Resources[11]) has done little to complete an environmental remediation that must be completed before construction can begin. Presently the costs are $16 million above the proposed $100 million budget.[12]