Transport report raises alarm over aging coast guard fleet

A report done for Transport Canada and quietly tabled in the House of Commons, paints a grim portrait of the country's coast guard fleet, saying it is understaffed, desperately in need of new ships and without political support.

OTTAWA — A report done for Transport Canada and quietly tabled in the House of Commons, paints a grim portrait of the country’s coast guard fleet, saying it is understaffed, desperately in need of new ships and without political support.

The comprehensive analysis of the nation’s transportation network was submitted to the Trudeau government last December, but not tabled until the end of the February.

It points out that coast guard vessels, including northern icebreakers, are on average 34-years-old and that the often-hyped National Shipbuilding Strategy will not replace them at a quick enough pace to bring that average down at all.

The report, which was accepted by Transport Minister Marc Garneau, also notes that the hands of the civilian service are tied in the sense that it is required to purchase its replacement ships from Canadian shipyards and that outsourcing or leasing cannot be used to meet short-term requirements.

The coast guard falls under the jurisdiction of the Fisheries Department, where no one was immediately available to comment.

Vancouver-based Seaspan Shipyards is planning to build the replacement vessels, and is one of two companies designated as the federal government’s go-to shipbuilders.