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Feds strike deal with Quebec's Chantier Davie for three new icebreakers

Last Updated Jun 22, 2018 at 6:00 pm EST

A Cecon ship which construction was halted sits on sits on dry ground Monday, November 19, 2012 at the Davie shipyard in Levis, Que. The federal government has reached a deal with a Quebec firm for three new icebreakers for the coast guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

OTTAWA – The federal government has reached a deal with a Quebec firm for three new icebreakers for the coast guard.

Public Services and Procurement Canada has issued an advanced contract award notice to Chantier Davie of Levis to acquire and convert three medium commercial icebreakers.

The department says the first ship should be on duty this winter.

The deal allows other interested suppliers 15 days to speak up if they wish to bid on the contract and submit a statement of capabilities that meets the requirements laid out in the contract notice.

The announcement is a boost for Davie and the Quebec government, both of which have been demanding more federal work for the shipyard after it laid off 800 workers late last year.

The layoffs came as Davie completed a contract to provide an interim supply ship to the navy.

The government said Friday the three icebreakers would cover the coast guard while replacement vessels are being built under the national shipbuilding strategy.

The announcement of the deal with Davie was silent about a new, heavy icebreaker. The shipbuilding strategy calls for construction of such a vessel, to be named after former prime minister John Diefenbaker.

The coast guard’s existing icebreakers are, on average, over 35 years old and have lost hundreds of operational days in recent years due to mechanical breakdowns.

In April, the heavy icebreaker CCGS Terry Fox ran aground near Bide Arm, N.L., and while it returned to port under its own power and initial repairs were conducted, more work remains.

That leaves the 49-year-old CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent as the coast guard’s only heavy icebreaker until the Terry Fox is back in service.

The fleet consists of two heavy icebreakers, four medium icebreakers, nine multi-purpose vessels and two hovercraft.