No icebreakers in federal government's $15.7B plan for new coast-guard ships

The Canadian Coast Guard's recent struggles in resupplying northern communities and rescuing ice-jammed ferries appear set to continue despite the Trudeau government's plan to invest $15.7 billion in new ships.

None of the 18 vessels the government says it plans to buy is an icebreaker, meaning the coast guard will be forced to continue relying on its existing fleet for the foreseeable future.

Much of the coast guard's icebreaker fleet is already near or even already past its expected lifespan, which has resulted in breakdowns and other problems.

Federal Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough acknowledged this week that the coast guard needs new icebreakers, but would not say when, or if, the Trudeau government would announce it is buying some.

Qualtrough instead indicated that any announcement on additional ships for the coast guard would likely come after the government adds a third shipyard to the two that are already partners in its multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan.

The search for that third shipyard is expected to start in the coming weeks, but while many observers expect Davie Shipbuilding in Quebec City to win, a senior government official said a decision is unlikely before October's election.