Canada's shipbuilding strategy 'slow to deliver ships, further delays possible'
Warship Technology May 2021
A report from Auditor General of Canada Karen Hogan tabled in the House of Commons in February concludes that Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy has been slow to deliver ships to meet Canada’s domestic and international obligations.
Timely renewal of the Royal Canadian Navy’s and Coast Guard’s fleets is necessary to replace aging ships and maintain essential services, from ensuring that Canada’s waterways are safe and accessible to supporting Canada’s participation in security operations around the world.
The audit found that fleet renewal experienced many delays. Only two of four ships scheduled for delivery by January 2020 were delivered, and both were late. Although the government identified weaknesses in schedule and risk management, efforts to address them were not always effective.
The report found that delays could result in several vessels being retired before new ones are operational. National Defence and the Canadian Coast Guard have put in place measures to maintain operational capabilities until new ships are delivered, but these interim capabilities are limited and cannot be extended indefinitely.
The report also found that National Defence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada reacted to issues impacting the timely delivery of ships and adjusted the management of the strategy to place it on a more viable path, but the impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic – which occurred after the audit was completed and caused work disruptions and delays in shipyards – is not yet known.
“Considering the unknown impact of the coronavirus pandemic on work in departments and shipyards, and with the bulk of new ships yet to be built, departments need to look for opportunities to further improve how they manage risks and contingencies,” the report said.