After successfully completing sea trials, the Royal Canadian Navy’s new Resolve-class naval support ship M.V. Asterix sailed from Quebec City in December 2017 for her home port of Halifax where she was formally commissioned on January 30 this year. Built in 2010 as a container ship, Asterix carried the names Amorito, Neermoor and Cynthia in the five years prior to being purchased by Federal Fleet Services in 2015 under the Canadian Government’s “Project Resolve”. She is the first new naval support ship to enter service with the Royal Canadian Navy in 50 years, the first large naval platform to be delivered from a Canadian shipyard in over 20 years and the first naval vessel to be delivered since the launch of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. The contract to convert the vessel was awarded to Chantier Davie Shipyards under a controversial non-competitive contract after Davie was excluded from the original National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy on account of being in receivership at that time.
Built by Nordic Shipyards, Wismar, Germany in 2010
Converted by Chantier Davie Shipyards, Quebec (2015-17)
Service speed 22knots
Helicopters: 2 x Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclones or 2 × Boeing CH-47F Chinooks
Class: Lloyds Register
The conversion of Asterix from an ice-strengthened containership to a modern fleet replenishment vessel involved stripping the vessel down to enable a fully modular rebuild. Along with offensive and passive self-defence systems and aviation capacity to accommodate helicopters, she is the first RCN seagoing hospital facility equipped with a full operating theatre. The government declined to contract with Davie Shipbuilding for conversion of a second vessel resulting in the lay-off of a reported 400 shipyard workers. An unconfirmed Globe and Mail investigation has concluded that Davie is today owned by a complex web of companies that can be traced from Canada and the United Kingdom to Monaco and the British Virgin Islands.
Purchased for CAD 20 million and converted for $667 million (RCMP estimate). Asterix has been described as a stop-gap replacement for the Protecteur Class fleet replenishment vessels, HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver, built in 1969 and 1970 respectively, both of which were forced to de-commission prior to construction of replacements. Under the agreed financial terms, Asterix is chartered by Project Resolve to the navy at a reported annual cost of CAD75 million. Under the National Shipbuilding Strategy, Seaspan’s North Vancouver yard is scheduled to build two replacement “Joint Support Ships” as permanent additions to the fleet at a total project cost reported to be in the range of $3.0 billion.
The picture above left shows the rebuilt fully integrated bridge on Asterix and above right is an artist’s impression of the new Joint Support Ships, currently scheduled for delivery in 2021 and 2022. They are based on an existing successful German design and will also be christened Protecteur and Preserver.