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Canadian navy to be without new support ships until at least 2025 due to production delay

Members of the Royal Canadian Navy salute at a naming ceremony for HMCS Margaret Brooke and HMCS Max Bernays, Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) at Halifax Shipyards in Halifax on May 29. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Ottawa is reporting another delay in the delivery of new support ships for the Royal Canadian Navy, meaning Canada will need to rely on a civilian ship and the goodwill of allies to resupply its naval fleet for the foreseeable future.

The federal government says the first of two new support ships being built by Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver will not be delivered until at least 2025 – two years later than the most recent estimate.

The new delivery schedule, if it sticks, is now six years later than originally anticipated and it also means the navy will have been without a permanent supply ship for a full decade.

Read more: Ships depart Halifax on NATO mission to demine North Atlantic, Baltic Sea

Navy officials have previously stressed the importance of having purpose-built support ships for overseas operations given the limitations of relying on allies and the civilian vessel’s inability to operate in war zones.

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The new schedule is not certain, given the delays and cost overruns that have plagued much of Canada’s decade-long, multibillion-dollar effort to replace its aging navy and coast guard fleets.

Officials also could not guarantee Canada will end up with both support ships, as they say the project’s budget, originally set at $2.3 billion but later updated to $4.1 billion, is now under review.

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