LNG carrier SCF

CCG Polar Icebreaker and Strategic Sealift Concept for Canada: Something to Consider

By David Dunlop, 28 June 2022

This concept has been bantered about before but deserves a second look for the acquisition of Canadian Polar-class icebreakers and Strategic Sealift Capabilities. The use of the South Korean Christophe De Margerie Arc 7 Ice Class LNG Carrier as a blueprint to build Canada’s CCG John G. Diefenbaker Polar-class icebreakers and possible RCN Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) “Big Honkin’ Ships” has merit and should at least be seriously considered. This class is well suited for high Arctic icebreaking duties and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief response The class has a tonnage of 80,000t with a length of 299m, a beam of 50m and a draft of 11.1m. They can be built in South Korea by DMSE and could be shortened in length by approximately 70 to 140m to meet RCN and CCG requirements and would be built in South Korea at a price of approximately $600M CAD each at 2022 prices. If acquired 'as is' by Canada, these vessels could then be shortened and retrofitted to CCG Polar 7 and RCN Strategic Sealift specifications at Davie Shipyard. These vessels however are only single-screwed and would have to be retrofitted either in South Korea by DMSE or in Davie shipyard to be fitted with two shafts. It would however solve a huge number of issues facing Canada’s CCG and the RCN for polar icebreaker and possible strategic sealift capabilities. We would have to acquire at least 5 of these ice class LNG carriers (2 CCG Polar John G. Diefenbaker-class icebreakers and at least 3 Strategic Sealift LHDs for the RCN). Outfitting them for polar icebreaking and Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD)/HA/DR responses would be challenging however, perhaps not so much with the Polar-class icebreakers, but the LHDs would take a much larger effort ($$). Davie would have to give the LHDs stern-wells and well-decks for landing craft, hovercraft and vehicle-A/C storage along with RO-RO capabilities not to mention a strengthened flight deck and island for helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft operations. Improved engine power generation would also be a requirement, especially for the LHDs (25+kts). But, as we have seen with MV Asterix, this could be done and at considerably lower costs than the CCG John G. Diefenbaker-class (approximately $7.25B CAD at 2021 take-away prices thus far, and Juan Carlos Class LHDs at approximately $6-7B CAD for 3 ships at 2021 take-away prices. Davie Shipyard could easily convert the Christophe De Margerie ice class LNG carriers to facilitate the CCG Polar-class icebreakers and invest in at least 3 LHDs (1 operational unit per coast and one in periodic maintenance). Even at $600M CAD for each Christophe De Margerie Arc 7 ice class LNG carrier, it would still be several times more cost effective than what we are doing or may do in the future. The only concern would be RCN manning of the LHDs. CAF strength would have to increase by at least 3-4,000 personnel in order to make this possible. An interesting concept though for Canada!

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