Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fewer, less capable, more delivery slippage...

...the Canadian Coast Guards planned mid-shore patrol vessels?
The coast guard is considering buying 10 mid-shore patrol vessels instead of the dozen originally planned to reduce costs.

It’s also looking at a cost-cutting measure that would mean the ships get slower as they age.

"They are looking for ways to make the project more affordable," a source involved in the project said Wednesday.

"Have we asked for too much? Have we given the vessels too many bells and whistles?"

The Conservative government quietly scuttled a plan last month to build 12 mid-shore patrol vessels for the coast guard. Bids had been received for that program, but they exceeded the anticipated $340-million cost, according to Public Works.

Estimates from shipyards interested in building the vessels were between 30 and 40 per cent higher than that price, said the source.

"So you need a lot of savings."

The Tories are still promising the ships will be built, but now experts are looking at ways to shave money off the project.

One possibility would be to change the specifications for the propulsion systems, said the source.

The coast guard had asked the ships operate at their peak speed at 90 per cent power when they are new. Changing that to 100 per cent would mean the vessels would be cheaper to build. But they would also get heavier when more equipment is inevitably added, said the source. Without the extra power in reserve, that means the vessels would slow as they age.

"Each time you add weight, it slows the boat down," said the source.

Three companies, including Irving Shipbuilding, were interested in building the vessels.

Eight of the coast guard patrol vessels were announced in the federal 2006 budget and four were part of the 2007 budget. They were to be up to 43 metres in length and travel at speeds up to 46 km/h.

They were meant to provide criminal and fisheries enforcement, monitor and patrol the ocean and protect sovereignty.

They were to have a crew of eight to 10 and carry RCMP or Department of Fisheries and Oceans enforcement officers
[emphasis added].

The first of the new ships were to go into service in 2009 and the remaining in regular intervals up to 2014.

Now it’s looking like if the project does go ahead, the first ship won’t be ready until 2011, said the source.

"You might get them in 2010, but there’s reality, too," said the source.

The coast guard offered no comment by late Wednesday on questions about the proposed changes...
The price of buying Canadian.


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