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Delays hamper Canadian National Shipbuilding Strategy, Auditor General says

The Canadian National Shipbuilding Strategy has been slow to deliver the combat and non-combat ships Canada needs to meet its domestic and international obligations, according to a report of the Auditor General of Canada, released on 25 February, to the Canadian Parliament on the strategy.

Timely renewal of navy and coast guard fleet ships is necessary to replace older ships and maintain essential services such as ensuring Canada’s waterways are safe and accessible, as well as supporting Canada’s participation in global security operations, the report noted.

In the report, the Auditor General said, “Fleet renewal experienced many delays. Only two of four ships scheduled for delivery by January 2020 were delivered, and both were late.”

The Auditor General also said, “Expected delivery dates for other vessels were also pushed back during the audit period, by years in some cases.”

The biggest challenge was the design and production of the first vessels of a given class, the Auditor General said. “For example, the first vessel class built and delivered was the offshore fisheries science vessel. Construction was well advanced before welding problems were discovered, which resulted in delays because of the need to investigate and repair several welds on the ships. These delays then cascaded to subsequent vessels.”

National Defence and the Canadian Coast Guard have put in place measures to maintain operational capabilities until new ships are delivered, the Auditor General reported, while also noting the interim capabilities are limited and cannot be extended indefinitely.

The Canadian Coast Guard, National Defence, and Public Services and Procurement Canada agreed with the Auditor General’s recommendations to develop complete, current, and reliable schedules to support shipbuilding projects, and to also ensure that progress towards forecast targets and delivery timelines is monitored to enable timely decision-making.

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