BMT Fleet Technology has won the contract to carry out the definition, engineering, logistics and management support contract for the Canadian Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship project.
The Canadian navy will acquire between six and eight ice-capable patrol ships to assert and enforce sovereignty in Canada’s waters, including the Arctic. The ships will be armed, have sophisticated surveillance and communications equipment and may carry a helicopter.
Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) will be able to operate in medium first-year ice and sustain operations for up to four months.
Their’ purpose is to reinforce Canada’s existing claim to Arctic territories, where Russia is now trying to annex as much as it can in order to secure valuable additional oil&gas resources.
However, the Canadians are also keen to ensure that the US keeps its hands off what Ottawa regards as sovereign territory.
Under the DELMS contract, BMT will assist Canada’s AOPS programme management office (PMO) by exploring many technical and programme issues during the definition phase of the project and support the Canadians during the construction phase, with ship deliveries expected from 2013 to 2019.
The work could ultimately be worth some $13million to the BMT subsidiary.
BMT has assembled a strong team to cover the breadth of technical subjects required. The company says its own strengths in ship design and of Arctic operations, and its experience of supporting the joint support ship PMO, will be supplemented by Aker Yards Marine (AYM) and BAE Systems.
AYM ,of Vancouver, brings experience of design and construction of icebreakers and patrol vessels and will be a key resource for the definition work. BAE Systems, of Glasgow, has also designed and built patrol vessels and designs and integrates combat systems for numerous ship types. Other companies within the worldwide BMT Group will provide specialist skills as required. Calian, of Ottawa, will provide some key resources.
Andrew Kendrick, BMT Fleet’s vice-president of operations, said: “We are delighted to be in on the ground floor for this important project. The AOPS project will benefit from our experience of supporting the Joint Support Ship PMO under a similar contract, and our team looks forward to contributing its range of strengths to the definition design.”
Aker Yards said in a separate statement that it would bring its very extensive capabilities fully to bear, including the resources of Aker Arctic Technology in Helsinki, Finland, and Aker Yards in Langsten, Norway.
Aker Yards designed and built the Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaking offshore patrol vessel, KV Svalbard, which will be a valuable reference for the AOPS project.
There is, quite literally, no other company with as much experience as Aker Yards in this sphere.
Meanwhile, the sabre rattling continues between Russia and its North American rivals.
According to latest mainstream media reporting, Moscow has sent a fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers into the Arctic, so reinforcing the fear that it intends to annex “unlawfully” a large portion of the ice-covered Arctic, beneath which may lie some 10billion tonnes of untapped oil & gas resources.
Russian icebreakers, in any case, routinely quarter the Arctic, supporting convoys of merchant ships traversing between the Barents and Bering Seas during the summer season. This year, there are thought to be eight in the region, dwarfing the British and American fleets, neither of which includes nuclear-powered ships.
Canada also plans to open an army training centre for cold-weather fighting at Resolute Bay and a deepwater port on the northern tip of Baffin Island, both of which are close to the disputed region.
Tension in the Arctic is also being heightened by the revival of Russian Cold War-era manoeuvres. Hardly a week passes without Russian aircraft overflying the North Pole, simulating strikes on “enemy” bases and shipping.
The Arctic crisis erupted last year when a Russian submarine crew planted a flag on the Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,240-mile stretch of seabed that Moscow says is Russian. Derided at the time as a stunt, the move focused attention on the race for Arctic resources.