A keel-laying ceremony was held January 16 for the first of two Canadian Joint Support Ships being built at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards. The ships are being built using modular construction methods, and so they lack a traditional keel that runs the length of the ship. The milestone was celebrated with the laying of a ceremonial coin near the center section of the lead ship, the future HMCS Protecteur.
Construction of the first ship began with a steel-cutting ceremony in June 2018, but a full construction contract to finish the ship is expected in spring 2020.
The new class is using an off-the-shelf ship design from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada. The long-delayed effort will replace Canada’s former supply ships, HMCS Preserver and HMCS Protecteur (the new class will reuse the names of the old auxiliaries). The replacement effort was originally launched in 2004, but the initial attempt was canceled in 2008 because of high costs. The original Preserver and Protecteur were removed from service ahead of schedule in 2014, leaving a capability gap that has been filled through agreements to utilize foreign logistics ships and the conversion of a container ship into an interim supply ship.
JSS delivery dates have been pushed back multiple times. At one point, the first ship was expected to arrive by 2020, but delivery will not take place until 2023. The second ship is not expected to arrive until 2025.
In October 2019, Navamar was awarded a CAD11.7 million contract for five ship-to-shore connector craft that will eventually be used by the JSS fleet.