Protecteur-class auxiliary vessel

The Protecteur class of ships will be based on the Berlin-class replenishment ship
Class overview
Name: Protecteur class
Builders: Seaspan Marine Corporation
Operators:  Royal Canadian Navy
Preceded by: Protecteur class
Planned: 2–3
General characteristics
Type: Joint Support Ship
Length: 173.7 m (569 ft 11 in)
Beam: 24 m (78 ft 9 in)
Height: 17.5 m (57 ft 5 in)
Draught: 7.6 m (24 ft 11 in)
Aircraft carried: 4 × Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone
Aviation facilities: Hangar and flight deck

The Protecteur class (formerly known as the Queenston class) of naval auxiliaries for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) began as the Joint Support Ship Project, a Government of Canada procurement project for the RCN that is part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. It will see the RCN acquire two multi-role vessels to replace the earlier Protecteur-class auxiliary oiler replenishment vessels that were operated by the RCN.[1]

The project has suffered from considerable delays. Originally announced in 2004, a contract for the construction of these ships was to have been signed in 2009, which would have seen the first vessel available for operational service in 2012. In 2010 the federal government grouped the Joint Support Ship Project under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, which was finalized in October 2011. Currently the federal government is in contract negotiations with the winning proponent Seaspan Marine Corporation for building the Joint Support Ship Project and several other non-combat ships for the RCN and the Canadian Coast Guard.

On 2 June 2013, it was announced that ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada's Berlin-class replenishment ship was selected as the basis for the design of the Joint Support Ship Project. The Canadian vessels will be a variant of the Berlin class, as the design had to be optimized for Seaspan's yard in Victoria, British Columbia.[2][3][4]

In order to speed construction of the Protecteur-class naval auxiliaries, the delivery of the new polar icebreaker, CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, will be delayed until the 2020s.[5]

Class name

On 25 October 2013, the Minister of National Defence announced the JSS has been named Queenston class with two ships named, HMCS Queenston and HMCS Châteauguay.[6] Their namesakes were to be the Battle of Queenston Heights and the Battle of Châteauguay, two battles during the War of 1812. A possible third ship in the class could be built, to be named HMCS Crysler's Farm, also named after a battle from the War of 1812.[7] The option for the third vessel was dropped due to budget constraints.[8] On 12 September 2017, the Canadian government announced the renaming of the class and vessels, taking the names of the ships of the class that they are to replace. Queenston became Protecteur and Châteauguay became Preserver. According to Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, this was due to the ties both serving and former Navy personnel had with the names.[9]


The Joint Support Ship Project consists of two, possibly three, multi-role vessels that will replace the underway replenishment capability of the Protecteur-class auxiliary vessel, as well as provide basic sealift for the Canadian Army, support to forces ashore, and command facilities for a Canadian Forces "joint force" or "naval task group".[10]

The Joint Support Ship Project should not be confused with the Amphibious Assault Ship Project, which is another separate procurement project also under consideration by the Royal Canadian Navy; planning for the Amphibious Assault Ship Project is at a much earlier stage.

Proposed ship capabilities

The Joint Support Ship Project envisions several multi-role vessels capable of supporting the Royal Canadian Navy's warships at sea, as well as providing strategic sealift and some airlift for naval task groups or army operations. The vessels will have a multi-purpose covered deck with the ability to carry up to 10,000 tonnes of ship fuel, 1,300 tonnes of aviation fuel, 1,100 tonnes of ammunition as well as 1,000–1,500 lane metres of deck space for carrying vehicles and containerized cargo. The vessels will also have hospital facilities as well as a large helicopter deck with two landing spots, hangar space for four helicopters, and a roll-on/roll-off deck for vehicles onto a dock.[11]

Ship particulars

  • The JSS will have a crew of up to 199 personnel plus its air detachment and mission personnel for a total of 239 onboard accommodations.
  • The JSS will be capable of reaching speeds higher than 20 kn (37 km/h), with a range of 10,800 nmi (20,000 km) with ice-edge capability to access Nanisivik Naval Facility in the summer navigation season.[12]



  • Deck space (inc. upper deck) 1,000–1,500 lane metres
  • Container system


  • 2 × CH-148 Cyclone helicopters
  • Enclosed hangar with maintenance and repair facilities[12]

Vessels will be designed with double or triple hulls for storage of petroleum products, unlike the current Protecteur-class single-hull vessels.

Joint headquarters support

  • Naval communications
  • Land communications
  • Air communications

Project timeline

In 2004 the federal government announced that it was commencing the Joint Support Ship Project. Originally, there were four syndicates vying for the contract, led by Irving Shipbuilding, BAE Systems, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada, and SNC-Lavalin ProFac. Two design finalists were selected in November 2006: ThyssenKrupp and SNC-Lavalin ProFac. Under the two remaining proposals, the ships will be built in either Marystown, Newfoundland or Victoria, British Columbia, respectively. A contract for final design and construction was expected in 2008, with the first ship of the class entering service in 2012. In January 2007, Canadian media reported that defence planners were considering the retirement of the existing Protecteur-class ships by 2010, prior to the delivery of the first replacement vessels in 2012. This news was met with criticism as it would leave MARCOM without an underway replenishment capability for two years.[13]

On 22 August 2008 the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Christian Paradis announced the termination of two procurement processes involving the shipbuilding industry. In December 2008 MARCOM officers and defence analysts had been hoping that January's federal budget would have contained up to $500 million in extra funding for the Joint Support Ship Project so that it could be completed. In the same month Defence Minister Peter MacKay suggested that the budget stimulus package would deal with MARCOM's shipbuilding needs. However, there was no extra money for the Joint Support Ship Project and the stimulus package did not address MARCOM's vessel procurement programs. Vice-Admiral Denis Rouleau, spoke to the Standing Committee on National Defence in the House of Commons and indicated that the Department of National Defence would know by summer 2009 how it would move ahead with the Joint Support Ship Project.[14]

In June 2009 officials with the Joint Support Ship Project began re-evaluating the type of ship they wished to purchase since the original concept could not be met with the money the government was willing to provide. One option would be to start from scratch and purchase a different type of ship altogether.[15] In September 2009, the Joint Support Ship Project received a new design. Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, Chief of the Maritime Staff, said that he was ready to submit design and cost estimates to the government and to the Minister of National Defence.[16]

In June 2010 the Government of Canada announced that the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) would see $35 billion spent over the next 30 years to purchase 28 new large ships and 116 small vessels for Maritime Command and the Canadian Coast Guard. The NSPS was headed by the government's procurement arm, the Department of Public Works and Government Services, with support from Department of Industry, as well as the 2 departments responsible for MARCOM and CCG, the Department of National Defence and Department of Fisheries and Oceans respectively. In July 2010, Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced that under the NSPS the federal government would initially purchase two joint support ships (at a cost of $2.6 billion) with options for a third.[17][18] On 11 October 2010 the Government of Canada announced that five shipbuilding companies were "being invited to participate in a request for proposals" for the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

On 19 October 2011, the Government of Canada announced the results of the competitive evaluation of bids in the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy which saw the $8 billion non-combat ship package, including the Joint Support Ship Project, awarded to Seaspan Marine Corporation in Vancouver, British Columbia.[19]

On 2 June 2013, the Government of Canada announced that ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada's Berlin-class AOR was selected as the design for the Joint Support Ship. On 11 October 2013, The NSPS Secretariat announced that Vancouver Shipyards will commence construction on the Joint Support Ships, followed by the Polar Icebreaker, under the NSPS non-combat package. It was expected that construction will begin in 2016–17.[20] On 25 October 2013, the Government of Canada announced that the two ships will be named Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Queenston and HMCS Châteauguay in recognition of the significant battles of Queenston Heights and Châteauguay during the War of 1812. The class would likely be named Queenston class.[21] These names were changed to Protecteur and Preserver respectively, announced on 12 September 2017.[9]

In August 2015 Davie Shipyard signed a contract to convert the container ship MS Asterix for the role until the specialized ships were delivered.[22] The contract is known as Project Resolve. The vessel was built in 2010 in Germany and will be converted for use by the RCN until the JSS are ready. Construction of the first JSS is scheduled to begin at the Seaspan Yard in late 2017, following the construction of two other classes of ships for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The first of class, HMCS Protecteur, is scheduled for an early 2021 delivery, and is expected to be operational later that year. HMCS Preserver is expected to follow in 2022.[23] In an effort to speed up the process of building the ships, steel was cut for the ships in 2018 during a lull in the construction of two Canadian Coast Guard science vessels at the yard.[24]

See also


  1. "Future Canadian Amphibious Assault Ship and Joint Support Ship" (PDF). Canadian Forces. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 June 2011.
  2. "Backgrounder: Joint Support Ship Design Decision". National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. 2 June 2013. Archived from the original on 3 June 2013.
  3. McKnight, Zoe (3 June 2013). "Navy adopts German design to be built in North Vancouver". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  4. Scott, Richard (26 May 2016). "Rebuilding Canada's navy [CANSEC2016D2]". Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  5. "Canadian Coast Guard may be forced to lease icebreakers as aging fleet increasingly at risk of breakdowns". National Post. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  6. "Names chosen for the Royal Canadian Navy's new Joint Support Ships". Government of Canada. Royal Canadian Navy. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  7. Pugliese, David (8 April 2016). "Royal Canadian Navy picks a name for a third Joint Support Ship". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  8. "National Defence blames 'fiscal restraints' for cutting third navy resupply ship". National Post. The Canadian Press. 30 September 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  9. 1 2 Pugliese, David (12 September 2017). "War of 1812 names for Joint Support Ships are history – Protecteur and Preserver are the new names". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  10. "Canada to build 2 Joint Support Ships". Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  11. "Canada's C$ 2.9B "Joint Support Ship" Project, Take 2". Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  12. 1 2 3 "Joint Support Ship: Replace Existing Systems with Newer or Different System". National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  13. ""Naval plan 'hare-brained'," The Halifax Chronicle-Herald". 2 February 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2007.
  14. Joint Support Ship
  15. Ships still on drawing board
  16. Weese, Bryn (14 July 2010). "Canadian Navy moves forward on new supply ships". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  17. Tutton, Michael (14 July 2010). "Navy to buy two new support ships for $2.6 billion". The Star. Toronto. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  18. Fowlie, Jonathan; Berthiaume, Lee; Hiltz, Robert; White, Marianne (20 October 2011). "Jubilation greets $8-billion shipbuilding contract for B.C." The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  19. "National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy Secretariat announces Vancouver Shipyards to build the Joint Support Ships in 2016". Government of Canada. 11 October 2013. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  20. Pugliese, David (25 October 2013). "Joint Support Ships to Be Named HMCS Queenston and HMCS Châteauguay". Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  21. Pugliese, David (26 September 2015). "Canada To Lease Commercial Vessel To Refuel Navy Ships". Tegna. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  22. "Joint Support Ship". National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  23. Berthiaume, Lee (5 March 2018). "National Defence aims to save time by cutting steel on resupply ships early". CBC News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
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