Kenney says feds will convert civilian vessel to serve as supply-ship stopgap

Defence Minister Jason Kenney says the government is talking to Davie Shipyard in Quebec about procuring a temporary supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy.

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Jason Kenney says the government is talking to Davie Shipyard in Quebec about procuring a temporary supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy.

Kenney says the plan would be to retrofit an existing vessel to “bridge the gap” until the government’s joint support ships are operational in 2021.

He says the discussions, which begin Wednesday and are preliminary, will be to determine if Davie can provide an interim solution acceptable to the navy’s standards and needs.

The navy needs supply ships to provide fuel, ammunition, water, spare parts and food to various vessels at sea, and to support task group helicopters.

The navy is retiring its two replenishment ships, HMCS Preserver and the fire-damaged HMCS Protecteur, without replacements ready to sail, despite a decade-long replacement program.

Critics have warned that a stopgap measure may end up costing the federal government more in the long run.