Sounds like more diesel pollution on the way....
Ottawa to buy new icebreakers
PM to spend $3 billion on six to eight ships that won't be able to patrol during winter
DAVID PUGLIESE, CanWest News Service, Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The Conservative government will spend more than $3 billion on six to eight new ships to patrol the Arctic, but the vessels won't be able to operate year-round.
The Harper government has backed away from its election promise to purchase a fleet of armed icebreakers for the North, and instead will acquire ships that can operate in the area only during the warmer months. The vessels will also be able to operate at the approaches of the Northwest Passage year-round, as well as off the country's East and West Coasts.
But an international law professor who specializes in Arctic sovereignty says that while the vessels are a welcome addition, the government must revitalize the country's aging icebreaker fleet so it can have a regular presence in the Arctic.
"That capability to operate anywhere in Canadian waters at any time of the year will not be answered with this announcement," said Michael Byers, of the University of British Columbia. "It's not what we really need for the decade or two ahead and it's not what (the prime minister) promised."
Byers said both Russia and the U.S. operate heavy icebreakers able to sail in Arctic waters claimed by Canada pretty much any time those countries wish.
In his announcement yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged the patrol vessel program is different from his election promise of armed heavy icebreakers. But, he said, this way more ships can be purchased. Moreover, the "medium" icebreakers are more versatile.
The ships will be capable of operating in ice up to one metre thick, Harper said.
However, Byers said the vessels are not icebreakers at all, but rather "ice-strengthened" ships that will be limited in when and where they can operate. Military officials privately agree, adding the ships would be more valuable for patrolling the East and West Coasts, in place of the more expensive frigates currently used.
Government officials say the Arctic patrol ships will cost $3.1 billion. Another $4.3 billion will be spent on operations and maintenance over their 25-year life. Six to eight vessels will be bought, but delivery of the first ship is not expected until 2013.
The new ships, to be based in Halifax and Esquimalt, B.C., will be built in Canada. Harper did not specify which shipyards would build the vessels, but added there will be enough work for all such facilities across the country.