Investing in the Navy
LOUISE MERCIER-JOHNSON
© 2009 FrontLine Defence (Vol 6, No 6)

Over the last several months, there has been a plethora of major activities surrounding the Canadian government’s intention to invest over $40 billion into its Federal Fleets over the next 30 years.

This investment includes upgrades and replacements of current Naval Combat fleets, Coast Guard and Federal Ferry Fleets, and RCMP vessels.
A recent conference, led by software design companies, Navware Canada Inc. and Shipconstructor Software Inc., and attended by over 200 industry partners, sought to:

  • Identify dynamic, innovative and effective ways to build ships in Canada
  • Review modern shipbuilding strategies, processes and techniques
  • Share global knowledge and expertise
  • Review case studies of two of the world’s most innovative shipyards

The shipbuilding industry, associations and the federal government came together to analyze best practices from around the world in an ongoing effort to capture ­lessons learned in helping to re-create and maintain a sustainable, profitable and competitive Canadian shipbuilding industry in a demanding global market.

The focus on specific engineering case studies from both naval and commercial projects speaks to the increasing sense of urgency felt within the community to coordinate, consolidate and validate Canada’s expertise.

The conference moved forward on the building blocks laid out via the Federal Government-organized consultation process and collectively addressed effective use of taxpayers money by harmonizing innovation and technology in research and development, and education & training.

Recommendations

  1. Adoption of a program similar to the National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP). Effectively  implemented in the USA between the Navy and Industry, it has proven to save millions of dollars in industrial efficiencies. The ­program invokes government seed money into industry to induce better performance through the development of various ­standards for design, production and ­manufacturing.
  2. Apprenticeship Training:  Developing government certified programs and training standards and conformity ensure that workers are provided long term sustainable skills that maintain Canadian ­shipbuilding capabilities.
  3. A defined long-term Shipbuilding Strategy that would create a framework to sustain shipbuilding capacity.  With over 60% of Canada’s goods and supplies using the maritime transportation system, it’s critical that the infrastructure of the transportation system be as sustainable as power, highways, food and telecommunications.

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Louise Mercier is President of FrontLine Services
© FrontLine Defence 2009

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