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
Coordinates 73°04′08″N 84°32′57″W / 73.068889°N 84.549167°W / 73.068889; -84.549167
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 8 August 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 10 August 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced construction of a new docking and refuelling facility at 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. The port's operational time was also scaled back to just a four-month period in the summertime.[6] Construction was expected to begin in 2013, with the station operational by 2016.[7] However, construction delays continued and the opening of the port was put off until 2017 with the intent to be fully operational by 2018.[6]


Once completed, the naval station will likely be home to the proposed Arctic off-shore patrol ships under the current Harper government plan.[8][9] 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.

The design was later downgraded to a refueling station. The base will now consist of storage tanks for fueling the new Harry DeWolf-class offshore patrol vessels, a site office and a wharf's operator shelter. The main purpose of the base will be to allow the new class to patrol the breadth of Canada's arctic areas during the four month summer season.[10][11]


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.[12] 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.[13]

The project is substantially behind schedule, with Nyrstar NV, a mining and metals company, performing remediation work since 2010 with the tanks from the tank farm being disposed of in 2011.[14] The costs rose $16 million above the proposed $100 million budget by 2013.[15]

Delays have also been caused by the sinking of the wharf. In 2010 measurements taken showed that the wharf had sunk about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) and causes were looked for. Drilling performed in 2011 showed a deep layer of clay below the wharf, leading engineers to believe the clay is compressing and settling the wharf. The settling is among the reasons the plan for the port was scaled back.[16] Reports later surfaced that the cost of the original plan more than doubled its original estimate, coming in at $258 million. The Department of Defence then scaled back the plan to only operate during the summer, remove the jet-capable airstrip and reduce the infrastructure at the port to a smaller tank farm, less personnel requirements and an unheated warehouse.[17] These delays and project design changes have pushed the operational date to 2018.[18] However after receiving approval from the Nunavut Impact Review Board in 2013, construction began in August 2014. In 2015, rock crushing and other site preparation techniques will begin and in 2016-17, the roads and the tank farm will be constructed.[10]


  1. ^ "Arcticnet - Naval gazing: Looking for a High Arctic port". Retrieved 7 August 2007. 
  2. ^ Green, Mary Ellen (28 October 2009). "Nanisivik naval depot project on schedule". The Maple Leaf. Retrieved 11 December 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Planned army base, port in North heat up Arctic quest". CBC News. 8 August 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2008.  mirror
  4. ^ a b Naval facility delayed until 2016 (subscription required)
  5. ^ "Backgrounder - Expanding Canadian Forces Operations in the Arctic". Prime Minister of Canada. 10 August 2007. Retrieved 17 August 2007.  mirror
  6. ^ a b De Souza, Mike (2 March 2015). "Canadian navy delays opening of crucial Arctic facility to 2018". Toronto Sun. Reuters. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Arctic naval facility downgrade due to high cost, says DND". CBC News. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Nanisivik Naval Facility: Project Summary" (PDF). Department of National Defence. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Nanisivik Naval Facility Project: Overview Presentation to Stakeholders – 27 October 08" (PDF). Department of National Defence. 27 October 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2009. [dead link]
  10. ^ a b Rogers, Sarah (6 March 2015). "Nanisivik naval fuel station postponed until 2018: National Defence". NunatsiaqOnline. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Bird, Michael (4 March 2015). "Making waves: The Navy's Arctic ambition revealed". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "B.C. firm wins design contract for Arctic naval port". CBC News. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2009. [dead link]
  13. ^ Navy refuelling depot construction delayed to 2011 (subscription required)
  14. ^ Dolphin, Myles (18 November 2013). "Naval facility delayed". Northern News Service Online. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Ottawa's Arctic port plan mired in delays". The Canadian Press. CBC News. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Chase, Steven (27 January 2014). "Hub for Canada’s Arctic patrols has got that sinking feeling". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Pugliese, David (8 September 2014). "Nanisivik naval facility was originally supposed to cost $258 million but DND balked at price tag". Defence Watch (Ottawa Citizen). Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "Arctic naval facility at Nanisivik completion delayed to 2018". CBC News. 4 March 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.