Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the construction of up to eight Polar Class 5 Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships and the establishment of a deep water port in the far North.

“Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic. We either use it or lose it. And make no mistake, this Government intends to use it. Because Canada’s Arctic is central to our national identity as a northern nation. It is part of our history. And it represents the tremendous potential of our future,” said Prime Minister Harper.

These new Polar Class 5 Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships will be custom-designed and built in Canada, and will be amongst the heaviest, most versatile armed naval vessels capable of sustained operations in ice. With steel-reinforced hulls, they will be capable of operating in ice up to one metre thick, and each vessel will also be equipped with a helicopter landing pad. They will be able to patrol the length of the Northwest Passage during the summer navigable season and its approaches year-round, and will also be capable of full operations on the East and West Coasts throughout the year.

To conduct sea-borne surveillance operations in the Arctic, a deep water port will be constructed to allow the patrol ships to re-supply and re-fuel.

“In defending our nation’s sovereignty, nothing is as fundamental as protecting Canada’s territorial integrity; our borders, our airspace and our waters,” said the Prime Minister. “More and more, as global commerce routes chart a path to Canada’s North and as the oil, gas and minerals of this frontier become more valuable, northern resource development will grow ever more critical to our country.”

The estimated cost of acquiring the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships is $3.1 billion, with approximately $4.3 billion provided for operations and maintenance over their 25-year lifespan.

The procurement strategy will conform to the Canadian Shipbuilding Policy Framework, which requires the federal government to procure, repair and refit vessels in Canada.