Friday, February 19, 2016

Canadian Shipbuilders Slam Tug Leasing Proposal

By Mark Edward Nero

Canada’s shipbuilding industry is expressing concerns over recent reports that the Canadian government may lease foreign-built tugboats rather than build replacement tugs for the Royal Canadian Navy domestically.

“Canada’s shipbuilding and maritime industry is fully capable of supplying all of Canada’s shipbuilding needs,” Shipbuilding Association of Canada President Peter William Cairns said Feb. 16. “In the current economic climate, when the priority should be to put Canadians back to work, the Canadian government mustn’t use Canadian tax dollars to support foreign shipyards.”

Under the previous federal administration’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, Canada’s smaller shipyards were supposed to build small vessels, like tugboats. However, last November reports of escalating costs associated with the program resulted in the administration of the country’s newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, saying that the entire strategy would be re-evaluated.

“While everyone agrees that major reforms are needed to ensure that the government gets the type and number of ships it needs at a reasonable price and on time, buying foreign-built ships does nothing to help build a strong Canadian maritime industry and puts Canadian jobs at risk,” said Cairns, a former vice admiral.

The Shipbuilding Association of Canada represents Canadian shipyards, marine equipment suppliers, commercial ship operators, ship designers, marine engineering firms and major marine defense industry suppliers and has been the voice of the Canadian marine industry for over 25 years.