Keel Laying for first Joint Support Ship

On January 16, 2020, representatives from the Government of Canada and the Royal Canadian Navy, many of Seaspan Shipyards more than 2,800 employees and other guests gathered for a ceremonial keel laying event. Photo credit: Seaspan Shipyards

On January 16, 2020, representatives from the Government of Canada and the Royal Canadian Navy, many of Seaspan Shipyards more than 2,800 employees and other guests gathered for a ceremonial keel laying event. Photo credit: Seaspan Shipyards

A/SLt Michelle Scott ~

January 16, 2020 was a momentous day for the Royal Canadian Navy when a keel-laying ceremony was held for the future HMCS Protecteur, the first of two Joint Support Ships (JSS) being built at Vancouver shipyards.

A keel laying event represents a significant milestone in the construction of a ship as it marks the birth of the vessel. As part of the ceremonial event, a newly minted coin is laid near the keel where it remains for the life of the vessel and is thought to bring the ship and crew good luck.

The ceremony was presided over by Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, on behalf of Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, and CEO of Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Mark Lamarre.

The lucky coin, which was laid by long-time Seaspan employee Jeff Smith, was jointly designed by the RCN and Seaspan and features the badge of the future HMCS Protecteur above a rendering of the new ship. Mr. Smith placed the coin near the centre section of the ship as the design of the JSS does not have a traditional keel.

“Today’s ceremony marks another critical milestone in the renewal of the RCN Fleet via Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy,” explained VAdm McDonald during the ceremony. 

“Once delivered, these warships will be strategic assets that will once again afford Canada the sovereign capacity to deliver – even in harm’s way an enduring at-sea replenishment…as well as significant Humanitarian and Assistance and Disaster Relief capacity.”

The future HMCS Protecteur is one of two new JSS ships that is being built as part of the ship building strategy. The new ships will replace the RCN’s former Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment Vessels, and eventually be commissioned under the same names of Protecteur and Preserver. The new ships will include modern self-defence and damage control systems that will allow them to operate in a variety of different operations, including high-threat environments. This will allow the RCN to extend the range and endurance of Canadian and Allied ships through the provision of fuel, food, ammo and other needs.

“Ensuring that our sailors have the modern and effective ships they need to carry out their work at home and abroad is critical for maintaining Canada’s maritime security,” wrote Min. Sajjan in a released statement. 

While construction began in June 2018, it is expected that the first of the JSS will be complete in 2023. The JSS is part of the versatile, modern fleet promised by the Canadian Government through its Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, and includes the new Canadian Surface Combatants, and Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels.

“As you know, the Royal Canadian Navy’s in the midst of the most comprehensive period of renewal in peacetime history,” said VAdm McDonald. “For a sailor like me, these are exciting times as we prepare for our future fleet.”

Filed Under: Top Stories

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