Seaspan Shipyards, North Vancouver, British Columbia, held a ceremonial keel laying yesterday for the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) future joint support ship (JSS) HMCS Protecteur. The 570'x79' Protecteur will be the largest naval ship ever built in Canada.

The future HMCS Protecteur, the first of two joint support ships to be built by Seaspan as part of Canada's National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS), will be able to conduct a full range of military operations in high-threat environments. The fourth vessel to be designed and built by Seaspan under the NSS and the largest naval ship by length ever built in Canada, the ship is scheduled for delivery in 2023.

In 2019, Seaspan delivered the Sir John Franklin and the Capt. Jacques Cartier offshore fisheries science Vessels (OFSVs) to the Canadian Coast Guard. These were the first two large vessels built and delivered under the NSS. Seaspan will deliver a third OFSV to the Coast Guard – the future John Cabot – in summer 2020.

“We are incredibly proud to reach this important milestone on the first of two joint support ships that will be built by Seaspan," said Mark Lamarre, chief executive officer, Seaspan Shipyards. "At Seaspan, we know that building ships requires you to build more than ships. You need to build a workforce, an industry, a supply chain, and strong partnerships. The JSS will be the largest naval ship ever built in Canada – a tremendous accomplishment for all the skilled and committed men and women involved in her design and construction."

The Protecteur and Preserver, the second JSS will replace the former Protecteur-class auxiliary oiler replenishment vessels. As a warship, it will include sophisticated damage control and self-defense systems that will allow it to conduct a full range of military operations in high-threat environments. In addition to providing critical at-sea replenishment, these multi-purpose warships will also be capable of seamlessly integrating with any Canadian or allied naval task group, and will significantly extend the range and endurance of these groups through the provision of fuel, ammunition, aviation support, food, spare parts, exercise and gym facilities, and medical and dental care.

Construction of the early blocks began in June 2018. Currently 16 blocks are complete and another 37 blocks are under construction. More than 1,000 Seaspan employees will contribute to the construction of HMCS Protecteur. The Protecteur will have a cruising speed of 15 knots, a top speed of 20 knots and a range of about 10,800 nautical miles.