Canada Is Nearly Ready to Build New Heavy Icebreakers For the Arctic


Photo: Rendering of a model of the new Canadian heavy Polar Icebreaker from Seaspan Shipyards. ShipTechnology

Canadian shipbuilding company Seaspan Shipyards, based in Vancouver, will begin construction of a new heavy icebreaker by the end of 2024. The company published a 3D model of the Polar Icebreaker under construction. The design phase was more than 70 percent complete as of June, according to the company. The ships will be the largest in the Canadian Coast Guard fleet: length 158.2 meters, width 28 meters, displacement 26,036 tons, installed power 46 MW (62,543 hp), autonomous cruising range 38,480 km, up to 100 crew.

Jess Fetterman, chief engineer for Seaspan's polar icebreaker program, said the vessel would be capable of operating in the Arctic in temperatures as low as -50 C year-round, while many of the vessels that make up the Coast Guard fleet only have access to the Arctic in late spring and summer. In addition, Fetterma noted that the new heavy icebreakers will provide “the added bonus of being a full-fledged scientific platform” for all types of climate research, and will also be able to reach the North Pole.

A spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) said the new icebreakers would operate both within and outside Canada's exclusive economic zone, which could expand if the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf approves Canada's 2013 application. year, which, however, requires additional negotiations with the United States, which also lays claim to the Arctic seabed.

Both the United States and Canada have recognized the importance of having heavy icebreakers for their Coast Guards. By 2028, the outcome of this undeclared race will not only reflect the technological advancements and strategic priorities of each country but also their commitment to maintaining a strong presence in the Arctic. The USA started first at the design stage in 2019 with the project readiness of 67 percent in June this year. In Canada, design began in 2021, with the project currently more than 70 percent complete.

The editorial board of the Arctic Century is betting on Canada's victory.

Sources: CBC News, Ships Monthly, Seaspan