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Maintaining the Canadian Coast Guard fleet

To ensure the availability of safe and reliable vessels for our crews, every Canadian Coast Guard vessel has a distinct maintenance plan. The National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS), which began in 2010, will invest more than $5 billion over the next 20 years in maintenance work as part of Canadian Coast Guard’s fleet renewal plan. This investment ensures that our vessels stay in good working order and extends the life of our older vessels until new ships are built.

Maintenance falls into three categories: Vessel Life Extension, Refit and Repair, and Vessel Conversion. The three types of work serve different purposes, but all serve to help the Canadian Coast Guard carry out critical services for Canadians.

Types of Vessel Maintenance

Vessel maintenance fits into one of the three categories below, according to the type of work being done:

Vessel Life Extension:

  • Vessel Life Extension (VLE) helps extend the service life of a ship. VLE work includes rebuilding and improving significant portions of both the exterior and interior of a vessel. Vessels undergoing VLE are out of service for an extended period of up to two years so that they can remain in safe and reliable condition for continued service. In most cases, this requires dry-docking the vessel at a Canadian shipyard.
  • The Canadian Coast Guard launched the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent in 1966; it has undergone several vessel life extensions during its service. The work done on the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent in the late 1980s and early 1990s increased the ship’s lifespan. The CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent continues to proudly serve the Canadian Coast Guard as our largest vessel and flagship.

Refit and Repair:

  • Canadian Coast Guard ships are checked periodically to ensure they meet Canadian regulations and remain in good working order. As part of refit and repair periods, the Canadian Coast Guard undertakes repairs, addresses other necessary issues, and updates the vessel. Many refits involve dry-docking the ship at a Canadian shipyard.

Vessel Conversion:

  • The Canadian Coast Guard sometimes purchases a fully built vessel and converts it rather than building a vessel from the keel up. This allows the Canadian Coast Guard to more quickly meet its operational plans, while Canadian shipyards work on delivering new, modern vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard’s fleet of the future.
  • The Canadian Coast Guard purchased three medium icebreakers for conversion: the CCGS Jean Goodwill, CCGS Vincent Massey, and CCGS Captain Molly Kool.
  • Additionally, in 2022 the Canadian Coast Guard purchased a light icebreaker that will be converted to meet the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaking program requirements.

Benefits under the National Shipbuilding Strategy

Vessel life extension, refit and repair, and vessel conversion are part of the third pillar of the NSS. Under this pillar, Canadian shipyards compete for fleet contracts. These contracts create well-paying jobs in Canadian communities where shipyards are located. Suppliers and partners of the Canadian marine industry also benefit from these contracts. To learn more about the NSS, visit the National Shipbuilding Strategy website.

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