FAQs on the Resolve-Class Naval Support Ship















OPERATIONAL QUESTIONS

Yes. The ship can go wherever the Canadian Armed Forces require it to go. Operationally it is able to perform an identical role to that of the potential future Joint Support Ships (now renamed the Protecteur Class).

The ship is fitted with the same integrated navigational and tactical system and platform management system as the rest of the future surface fleet will have. Also significant measures were included in the rebuild of the ship to integrate the highest levels of redundancy and watertight integrity in case of damage. Asterix carries specialist insurance for coverage in war risk areas and operations in high risk scenarios.



The Canadian Armed Forces and all foreign navies will always avoid taking supply ships into direct combat due to their vulnerability. Instead, they will remain at a safe distance from any direct combat situation. Supply ships are a vulnerable target, carrying over 10,000 tonnes of fuel and ammunition and with limited armaments. Both the JSS and Asterix are classified as ‘non-combatants’ and neither are fitted with the kind of countermeasures or offensive systems required to enter into a direct combat situation.



While Asterix is innovative in many ways, the concept of converting a containership into a naval auxiliary ship is tried, tested and proven. In fact, the US Navy and (UK) Royal Navy have been doing it for years and those ships remain active today and have served in every combat operation of the past few decades. For example, the UK’s RFA Argus – another converted containership – served in the Gulf War, Bosnia, Sierra Leone and both Iraq wars. The US navy’s Algol Class – also a fleet of converted containerships – served in the very same combat operations.

Asterix meets all legacy requirements and exceeds it in many areas. It has more fuel capacity, larger helicopter deck, fully enclosed cargo deck allowing to move cargo fore and aft in a totally protected environment (under cover), as well as fully covered RAS winches and tensioners, etc. which are completely protected from the environment. The vessel can carry over 38 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) containers. It is equipped with a larger and more complete hospital and dental facility. It is faster and has more range, and is also fitted with state-of-the-art galley equipment. Furthermore, the ship can accommodate two Cyclone helicopters at the same time, it is double hulled and equipped with a retractable thruster and a bow thruster giving it dynamic positioning capability which is highly desirable for vessels operating in at-sea transfer situations.

Yes – Asterix meets all NATO sea-keeping, damage control and communications requirements.


Most importantly, Asterix has four RAS masts, as opposed to two in the JSS, which means the JSS will not be built in accordance with the applicable NATO regulations, called STANAG 1310. The four RAS posts allow the ship to readily fuel two vessels alongside thus doubling its refueling efficiency and capacity.


Under NATO STANAG 1310, the minimum design criteria established for Replenishment at Sea aspects of new build vessels is a minimum of two stations per side. Asterix meets this requirement. The vessel can both refuel and provide solids to two ships simultaneously or refuel on both stations on a side for extra high-speed refueling operations. Each RAS mast in Asterix is fully independent of each other, which means that a failure in any mast hydraulics or winching systems has zero effect on the others. The JSS has none of this redundancy making it less versatile and higher risk as a fleet supply vessel.

Both are effectively tankers. Neither JSS nor Asterix have anti-explosive hardening on them, so a direct hit could destroy either. That is why navies do not take such replenishment ships into battle. They fuel when it is safe, escorted by submarines and destroyers.

Asterix is uniquely designed with simultaneous multiple code requirements being applied from both Transport Canada and Lloyd’s Register. It has been designed and approved against the most stringent regulations across a myriad of vessel types including naval rules, tanker rules, passenger ships rules, cargo ship rules and special purpose ship code and in each case with the strictest requirements being applied. It is most likely the most stringent governing code requirements placed on any commercial vessel ever to be built in Canada.


The vessel has seven main vertical zones and innumerous sub divisional watertight and fire tight zones contained within each one. The vessel meets the highest standards of damage stability and has been checked and approved against over 2700 combinations of major, and progressive damage conditions, surviving all and staying within final floating equilibrium angles less than that required for a passenger ship evacuation.


In terms of surviving a military strike, the idea that no breach will occur to some extent within the hull form of any vessel, naval or otherwise, with modern high-yield weapons is not smart thinking. Weapons manufacturers do not design torpedoes and missiles to have a blast yield of just the required amount not to breach a vessel built to national naval code requirements! In fact, quite the opposite. Breach to some extent is a real possibility in all vessels. Survivability and the ability to subdivide and contain are considered and applied to a very high level in the design of Asterix.

To equal the potential future Joint Support Ship design in terms of self-defence, Asterix could be fitted with a Close-In Weapon System (or Phalanx). These bolt-on systems could be installed in a matter of days and dedicated areas onboard have already been hardened to accommodate them

Same as the Joint Support Ship, Asterix is designed and fitted for, but not with a Close-In Weapons System. It is the decision of the Crown, and only the Crown’s to provide weapons system. As for installation, all CIWS are bolted on and installation of such a system is very straight forward. This is a controlled good that is only installed by the RCN, at a naval dockyard.

Other minor items such as installation of a different radar could be fitted within a single day, if required.

Absolutely not. The entire auxiliary fleets of the US Navy, Royal Navy (UK) and many other navies are wholly operated by merchant seafarers. By having regular naval staff operate its naval support ships, Canada is in fact in the minority of world navies.

Asterix can be docked at any Canadian dockyard, commercial dock, NATO dockyard or at any port throughout the world. In fact, the ship’s retractable thruster means it is able to maneuver itself into certain ports, such as those in the developing world, even when tugs are not available. The JSS has no such functionality.

Yes – Asterix is capable of sailing in the Arctic during summer and has ice strengthening. The vessel is designed and certified for unrestricted worldwide service.


The JSS and Asterix are identically classed for Arctic operations. Neither has icebreaker capabilities, and they both can only operate in the Arctic in summer conditions. Neither has an advantage over the other.

Yes – Asterix is designed with full propulsion, machinery and steering redundancy, not only by means of two propulsion propellers located at sufficiently safe distance from each other, but also by means of two fully independent engine rooms, each fully autonomous in respect to each other, located in completely separate vessel zones, segregated by main watertight and fire division bulkheads. Generally, for a naval ship structure, the explosion required to cause uncontrollable flooding, total loss of propulsive power or loss of mission system effectiveness, is much less than that required to cause failure of a hull. Having twin propellers is of little benefit in the event of a strike, grounding or even fire occurring across the breadth of a main zone if both driving sets are sited within. Asterix is designed to withstand a total loss of either machinery or propeller compartments across the full zones. The vessel is fitted with a deployable, secured, in-hull type propulsion thruster which is infinitely steerable over a full 360o range and located safely forward providing damage separation and continued steering and propulsion in the event of the entire aft end zone becoming compromised for any reason.


Unlike the JSS, Asterix could lose propeller or have stern damage, and it will still be able to sail which is a far safer arrangement for operations. Modern retractable thruster systems were only in their infancy when the JSS (Berlin-Class) was designed 26-years ago

TECHNICAL QUESTIONS

Asterix has full Transport Canada and Lloyd’s Register certification for a commercial vessel being used in a military operation, including the relevant notations for military operations. This is equivalent to JSS at a minimum and exceeds JSS in many operational scenarios.

The initial concept design was developed in-house by shipbuilding and naval experts within Davie and Federal Fleet Service’s senior management and the first general arrangement was drafted by NavTech, a Canadian ship design firm. The detailed and production design and engineering was performed by Rolls-Royce who are the largest ship design firm in the world, having designed thousands of vessels with equal or higher capabilities. In fact, navies around the world have chosen Rolls-Royce to design their ships.


The potential future Joint Support Ship is a 26-year old German design. More than 10 years ago (in 2006), a leading American defence analysis firm wrote that it doubts any further orders of this design would be made beyond the two existing ships which were built for the German navy; given the obsolescence of the design:

“It is now approaching three years since the last of these ships was completed and, by now, enough differences in component availability will have arisen to make an exact repeat of the Berlin class improbable. In addition, any future design will be modified to incorporate lessons learned from the first pair of ships. Thus, it is most improbable that any future construction will be repeats of the Berlins.”

https://www.forecastinternational.com/archive/disp_pdf.cfm?DACH_RECNO=778

The vessel is certified to full commercial and naval standards applicable for a supply vessel trading in international waters with no restrictions on operations.

Yes – Asterix is designed with full propulsion, machinery and steering redundancy, not only by means of two propulsion propellers located at sufficiently safe distance from each other, but also by means of two fully independent engine rooms, each fully autonomous in respect to each other, located in completely separate vessel zones, segregated by main watertight and fire division bulkheads.


Generally, for a naval ship structure, the explosion required to cause uncontrollable flooding, total loss of propulsive power or loss of mission system effectiveness, is much less than that required to cause failure of a hull. Having twin propellers is of little benefit in the event of a strike, grounding or even fire occurring across the breadth of a main zone if both driving sets are sited within. Asterix is designed to withstand a total loss of either machinery or propeller compartments across the full zones. The vessel is fitted with a deployable, secured, in-hull type propulsion thruster which is infinitely steerable over a full 360o range and located safely forward providing damage separation and continued steering and propulsion in the event of the entire aft end zone becoming compromised for any reason.


Unlike the JSS, Asterix could lose a propeller or have stern damage, and it will still be able to sail which is a far safer arrangement for operations. Modern retractable thruster systems were only in their infancy when the JSS (Berlin-Class) was designed 26-years ago.

Asterix has double and triple redundancy in the electrical control systems using multiplex fibre optic cable systems providing equivalent or better reliability.


Asterix has a fully redundant design in all major critical systems and in many cases triple redundancy when considering back-up control systems. This is achieved not only through duplication of equipment but also by means of a duplication of control systems, locations and levels, and in all cases with the ability to fall back to local operations on base level control in the event of the loss of remotely located control stations topside.

The vessel has Transport Canada and Lloyd’s certification to carry dangerous goods including DG-1 cargoes or ammunition. In fact, the cargo storage capacity is 30% greater than JSS.

Asterix can carry 114 CAF and RCN member as crew, plus additional numbers for humanitarian missions – up to 350. The merchant navy compliment is 36 members of personnel. The DND requirement is 114.

COMMERCIAL QUESTIONS

The price for Asterix is $659 million.

The Government of Canada will pay approximately $520 million for the lease of the vessel over 10 years.



The additional services requested by Canada over the next ten years amounts to around $300 million.
This includes ship management, crewing, training, operations, maintenance, certifications, insurance, victualling, fuel and lubricants etc.

Yes, Canada is able to purchase the vessel at any time for $659 million (versus >$2 billion each for the Joint Support Ship, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office)

Five independent reviews:

i. FMI (First Marine International) were the Government of Canada (GoC) assessors for the program and were also the assessors of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy;

ii. The design was submitted and reviewed by Transport Canada and Lloyd’s Register to meet their standards;

iii. The contract was reviewed by a GoC third party – Norton Rose;

iv. The insurance was reviewed by a GoC third party – AON;

v. The financial proposal was reviewed on behalf of GoC by KPMG; and

vi. Artemus, who are risk specialists, acted as third party risk advisor and reviewed the build strategy.

vii. Any and all risks or issues identified by these third parties were mitigated during the course of the detailed design and production work.

Yes, because…


(i) In the medium-term, the Royal Canadian Navy will have only one naval support ship for the next decade until Vancouver Shipyards delivers the first Joint Support Ship. It is planned that Asterix, the first Resolve-Class ship, will spend much of the next five years on foreign deployments. Without a second naval support ship, the navy will have to rely on the navies of Chile and Spain for at-sea replenishment but that comes with various operational and sovereign issues. There is, therefore, a clear interim requirement for a second Resolve-Class Naval Support Ship from Davie in the short-term.


(ii) In the long-term, the Royal Canadian Navy needs four supply ships, two on each coast. Four vessels will allow the Navy to have one vessel on high readiness on each coast. While one is undergoing maintenance or on foreign deployments, another will be standing by or on operations on both coasts. Without a second supply ship in the interim, the Navy will only be able to sustain operations offshore for a matter of days. With a supply ship, it can sustain operations for months.


In recognition of this urgent need, both the Senate and the House of Commons recommended during 2017 that Canada obtain a second Resolve-class supply ship from Davie.

No. Following decades of delays, the latest plan was for a supply ship to begin construction in 2016 and to have it delivered in 2019. This has been delayed due to the fact that according to government reports, Seaspan can only build one ship at a time and it must first build four vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard (3 Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels and 1 Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel) before it is able to actually build the two Joint


Supply Ships for the Royal Canadian Navy. Below is an excerpt of the testimony provided by a Coast Guard official on November 7th 2017 before a parliamentary committee:


“The dates certainly can be provided. I will say that the very first OFSV will be delivered in 2018, the second one in 2019, and the third one in the 2020-21 timeframe. That’s in accordance with the latest schedule that VSY has produced. The OOSV will follow that. We’re still in the design phase for the OOSV. That will take some time. Between the delivery of the OOSV and the delivery of the Polar, there are the two naval resupply ships in there. The Polar-class icebreaker will follow the delivery of the second joint support ship.”


To clarify, this is the best-case scenario: Seaspan will not deliver the first vessel to the Canadian Coast Guard until 2018, the second in 2019, the third in 2020-2021, and the fourth likely two years later (2023), as it is more complex. In 2023, they will commence the actual construction of the Joint Supply Ship which will likely be delivered and accepted by the Navy at the earliest in 2026. The second JSS will likely be delivered approximately 18-24 months later. This means the Navy will have to wait eight more years before it can have a second supply ship on the West Coast.


Germany built the Type 702 Berlin-Class Support Ship (same design as JSS) for C$504m and it took four years to build one ship, with four of the world’s top (German) shipyards each building sections of the ship. On the other hand, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office “Seaspan’s experience has been in the field of barges, ferries and smaller commercial ships. The company has very little experience in the class of ships that will be produced,” and as such further significant delays should be expected.

No. Canada is a G8 nation with three oceans and the world’s longest coastline. Without supply ships, the Navy cannot sustain operations offshore. In 2014, the Navy lost its last two supply ships (Preserver and Protecteur) after 45 years of service. Since then, we have relied on Chile to support the Navy on the West Coast for 40 days in 2015, and Spain to support the Navy on the East Coast for 40 days in 2016. This is only when their vessels are available in peace time. In times of conflict, Canada will be even more challenged to utilize our Navy to protect Canada and Canadians. Providing supply ships is a key NATO commitment which Canada is presently failing to deliver.

Yes. The Parliamentary Budget Office in 2013 calculated that the JSS will cost $4.1 billion for two vessels. That is four times more than Germany paid for the identical 26-year old design. Each supply ship from Davie would cost $659 million.

The Minister of National Defence noted on October 31st 2017 that relying on Spain and Chile would cause a problem for the Navy. He stated: “this is one [capability] gap that will turn into a capability loss that we currently have to rely on other nations to resupply our ships.” Canada cannot wait eight years for a supply ship on the West Coast. We urgently need one today which is why the House of Commons and the Senate recommended the government move forward urgently with Davie to build a second Resolve-Class supply ship.







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