Project Resolve is the name of a pan-consortium made up of Chantier Davie Canada, Aecon Pictou Shipyard of Pictou, Nova Scotia and NavTech, a naval architectural firm, to develop an interim fleet supply vessel for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) until the previously-ordered Protecteur-class auxiliary vessels are complete. As of 2016, the project purchased MS Asterix, a commercial container ship, and is converting the vessel into an auxiliary naval replenishment ship that will be rented by the Royal Canadian Navy. The conversion was expected to be completed and the ship active in service by 2017. In late 2017, Davie proposed extending the project through the conversion of a second ship to ensure full capability for both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.
The Royal Canadian Navy intended to replace its aging Protecteur-class replenishment oilers with new Joint Support Ships in 2008. However that program was cancelled shortly before the 2008 federal election by the Conservatives after those bids that were entered by interested shipyards came in too high.
The program to replace the Protecteur class was revived as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The new Protecteur-class auxiliary vessels were intended to enter service in 2020. Protecteur was intended to be in service until 2017 and Preserver until 2016, however a catastrophic fire aboard Protecteur in 2014 led to her early decommissioning and an engineering survey discovered high levels of corrosion in Preserver that led to her being kept alongside in Halifax. This left a significant operational gap for the RCN. The Navy set about trying to fill the gap, renting the replenishment services of other navies, specifically the Chilean Almirante Montt on the Pacific coast and for the Atlantic coast, inquiring into renting a ship from Spain. In 2014 Chantier Davie pitched a unsolicited plan for an interim supply ship to the Conservative government. Following that, Seaspan and Irving Shipbuilding also submitted proposals that were ultimately unsuccessful. Chantier Davie's plan was chosen and the Conservative government began exploring their proposal.
Awarding of contract
In June 2015, the Conservative government changed a line in contracting regulations that govern Cabinet spending that allowed them to award a sole-sourced contract when operationally necessary and fulfills an interim need. It was announced shortly thereafter that the government had entered into discussions with Chantier Davie Canada on whether it could provide an interim supply ship until the new Protecteur-class vessels were ready.
This led the Conservative government signing a letter of intent with Chantier Davie to explore a plan to convert a civilian cargo ship into an interim auxiliary vessel. A second converted ship was offered to the RCN, but was declined. Chantier Davie moved ahead with the project, purchasing the container ship MS Asterix from Capital Ship Management of Greece for a reported $20 million.
Initially the plan was for the ship to be brought to the Aecon Yard in Pictou, and then completed at Davie's yard in Quebec. However, Asterix instead went directly to Davie's yard at Lévis, Quebec, arriving in October. On 10 August 2015, Chantier Davie signed an agreement for work on the conversion with Hepburn Engineering of Ontario who specializes in maritime underway replenishment equipment. In September, it was announced that L-3 MAPPS (a subsidiary of L-3 Communications), was selected as partner in the conversion for its Integrated Platform Management System. It is also planned to re-utilise the resupply equipment from Protecteur by installing it aboard Asterix. OSI Maritime Systems was chosen by Davie Shipyards to install their integrated navigation and tactical system aboard the converted ship.
In October 2015, the Conservative government finalized that plan, which would cost $700 million over seven years including $300 million for the conversion itself, but left final authorization until after the election. The RCN also would have the option of buying the ship after completion.
Delay and completion
In November 2015, following the reception of a letter from James D. Irving, co-chief executive officer of Irving Shipbuilding, the Liberal Trudeau government postponed the final authorization of the project for two months. This decision provoked a response from Philippe Couillard, Premier of Quebec, the location of the Davie shipyard. Couillard stated that he would not accept Ottawa halting or any alterations to the project going forward. Other political leaders within Quebec were equally vocal against any changes. Should the contract not be signed, the Government of Canada is obliged to pay Chantier Davie $89 million according to the Letter of Intent signed earlier in the year.
On 30 November 2015, the Liberal government gave final approval for the project, allowing the conversion to go ahead. As of October 2016[update], the conversion was ahead of schedule. with 60% of the conversion completed. The ship is planned to be available for sea trials in September 2017. On 20 July 2017 Davie Shipbuilding unveiled Asterix in a public ceremony with the traditional breaking of a bottle of champagne. This honour was performed by Pauline Théberge, spouse of J. Michel Doyon, the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec. The vessel was re-launched on 15 October 2017 at Quebec City. Sea trials are scheduled to begin on 16 November in Gaspé Bay.
Asterix will be used for at sea fuel replenishing for both liquid and solids using NATO-standardised methods and two cranes for loading and unloading purposes. The ship will be able to deliver 400 tons of fresh water per day and carry 7,000 tons of fuel oil. The vessel will also have a container bay for protection of the containers while in transit. The ship will have a double hull, a feature that the previous Protecteur class did not have and prevented them from operating outside of international waters.
For mission purposes the ship will have rooms for crew and medical/hospital facilities for humanitarian missions, along with humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities. There will be an area to treat and process evacuees and survivors, a large medical ward divided into two areas capable of treating up to 60. The ship will also provide room for 350 in emergency situations. Asterix, post-conversion, will be able to operate up to eight smaller boats with quick launch and recovery capability. Asterix will have two aircraft hangars with two CH-148 Cyclones embarked and a landing deck capable of handling the largest helicopters, including the CH-147F Chinook.
Two other Canadian shipbuilders have submitted proposals to the government to convert a civilian cargo vessel into a naval replenishment vessel. Both proposals, one by Irving Shipbuilding, the other by Seaspan, were initially rejected at the time by the Conservative government. Irving Shipbuilding sent a letter to the new Trudeau government, asking them to review the project, stating that they could provide a cheaper option than what Davie proposed.
Irving criticised the Davie plan, claiming that a container ship is "wrong" and that it would require "too much conversion...too risky, too expensive and doesn't provide the large interior payload." Irving instead submitted a design based on a roll-on/roll-off vessel that "would be capable of refueling two ships simultaneously, as well as landing helicopters and allowing large trucks and emergency response vehicles to drive on and off."
Seaspan's Victoria Shipyards reaffirmed their proposal in November, claiming to do it at a lower cost than that provided by Davie Shipyards. They presented two options to the government, one a "fuel supply only and another for a supply and support option."
- "Canada's interim Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ship MV Asterix has arrived in Levis". CNW. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- "Project Resolve – Program". projectresolve.ca. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- "Navtech inc. à l'avant-garde de l'architecture navale et du génie maritime". navtech.ca. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Pugliese, David (23 June 2016). "Canadian Navy's interim supply ship could be equipped to be able to take on disaster relief missions". National Post. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- Corby, Samuel (1 January 2018). "Canada looks to second conversion to meet auxiliary needs". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- Brewster, Murray (18 August 2015). "Future government on the hook for navy supply ship deal". CTV News. Canadian Press. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Cudmore, James (20 November 2015). "Davie interim supply ship $700M deal delayed by Liberals". CBC News. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
- Pugliese, David (29 September 2014). "The Royal Canadian Navy issues details on retirement of ships". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Derosa, Kate (14 May 2015). "As HMCS Protecteur is retired, questions raised about naval weakness". Times-Colonist. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- "Navy sending four Cold War era ships into retirement". CTV News. Canadian Press. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Pugliese, David (24 August 2015). "Canada's navy is relying on a Chilean vessel for resupply after critical ships damaged or decommissioned". National Post. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Pugliese, David; Villarejo, Esteban (15 October 2015). "Canada's Navy In Talks To Rent Spanish Replenishment Ship". DefenseNews. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Department of National Defence (23 June 2015). "Archived – Auxiliary Oil Replenishment Capability". Government of Canada. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Brewster, Murray (20 November 2015). "Liberals pause navy's urgent plan to acquire temporary supply ship". The Globe and Mail. Canadian Press. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
- Campion-Smith, Bruce (23 June 2015). "Canadian navy will retrofit private ship to replace Canadian supply vessels". Toronto Star. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Pugliese, David (15 October 2015). "Canada's navy isn't interested in a deal for second commercial fuel tanker to supply warships". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
- "Davie set to start box ship to fleet oiler conversion". MarineLog. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- Therrien, Yves (11 August 2015). "Projet Resolve: premières retombées du Chantier Davie". La Presse (in French). Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- "L-3 MAPPS Selected by Chantier Davie Canada and Project Resolve for the Royal Canadian Navy's Interim Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (iAOR) Provision of Service". navyrecognition.com. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Pugliese, David (6 October 2015). "Asterix to be outfitted with HMCS Protecteur's replenishment at sea system". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- "OSI selected to support Canadian Navy's AOR provision of service project". naval-technology.com. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- Leduc, Gilbert (14 October 2015). "Le projet Resolve, une conversion de 300 millions $". La Presse (in French). Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Pugliese, David (27 October 2015). "Royal Canadian Navy to be given option to purchase interim supply ship". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Den Tandt, Michael (24 November 2015). "Fight over multi-billion-dollar naval contracts sees Vancouver and Halifax firms team up against Quebec". National Post. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Marquis, Mélanie; Robillard, Alexandre (20 November 2015). "Chantier Davie: Couillard n'acceptera pas que le projet soit freiné". La Presse (in French). Canadian Press. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
- Moalla, Taïeb (20 November 2015). "Conversion du MS Asterix: La Davie garde son optimisme". Le Journal de Quebec (in French). Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Cudmore, James (30 November 2015). "Davie Shipyard's $700M deal for navy supply ship retrofit to go ahead". CBC News. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
- Gunn, Andrea (30 November 2015). "Ottawa confirms $700m supply ship deal for Quebec shipyard". Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
- Carl, David (31 October 2016). "Canadian Resolve-class oiler refit proceeding on course". janes.com. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- "Davie Shipbuilding unveils the largest naval ship ever delivered from a Canadian shipyard". www.newswire.ca. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
- Keddie, Ian (18 October 2017). "Davie launches Resolve-class naval support ship". Jane's IHS. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- "Project Resolve – Specs". projectresolve.ca. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- "Resolve-Class AOR" (Press release). Canada Newswire. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- Curry, Bill (5 August 2010). "Canadian Navy's ships risk being banned from foreign ports". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- Henderson, Jennifer (23 November 2015). "Irving Shipbuilding fires back at shipbuilding association criticism". CBC News. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Wilson, Carla (25 November 2015). "Victoria's Seaspan campaigns for supply-ship job". Times-Colonist. Retrieved 26 November 2015.