Asterix – the privately owned combat support ship putting Canada back on the charts

Combat Support Ship Asterix (centre) resupplies US destroyer USS Truxtun and Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal during evacuation efforts offshore Sudan during May 2023. (US Department of Defense)

In 2014, shortly after our group acquired Canada’s largest shipbuilder we were preparing to deliver MV Pride, the most complex ship ever built in Canada and, at over 14,000 tonnes, that year’s single largest domestic export. When I approached a respected CBC news anchor to cover this momentous occasion, he declined. “Shipyards building ships isn’t really a story,” was his reply.

It’s perhaps no surprise to see a success story ignored; overshadowed by more sensational narratives. By the same token, ships flawlessly doing their jobs shouldn’t be a story. But in Canada the media has often focused on ships delivered late, over-budget or not working properly. As such, the exception should grab headlines.

The Combat Support Ship, Asterix, is the exception. It has been contracted to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) for the past five years. Delivered on time in 2018, it has not had a single day of unplanned maintenance. It is a rare achievement in Canadian government procurement – shifting construction risk from the taxpayer to the shipbuilder. In fact, a high-ranking UK Royal Navy officer told a gathering of his international peers the Asterix project is “the gold standard” for all navies.

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