CCG Polar Class icebreaker

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The Canadian Coast Guard has plans to construct a new CCG Polar Class Icebreaker, scheduled for completion in 2017.[1][2] The Federal budget published on February 27 2008 included plans to build a new Polar class icebreaker for the Coast Guard. The $720 million CAD vessel would replace the forty-year-old CCGS Louis S. St Laurent when it is completed, in 2017.[3][4]

Minister's comments

Minister of Defence Peter MacKay has stated that the icebreaker will be built in Canada.[5] According to the Halifax Chronicle Herald the Irving Shipyard near MacKay's riding, can expect some of the construction work:

The replacement ship is to be built in Canada and Irving’s Halifax Shipyard can be expected to seek a piece of the work, likely as part of a consortium including other Canadian shipyards.

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Loyola Hearn announced the icebreaker will be homeported in St John's Newfoundland and Labrador -- his riding.[6] The new vessel is to be larger than the Louis St Laurent.

Third party comments

Michael Byers, the Canada Research chair in global politics and international law at UBC, responded:

  • "This icebreaker and new money for mapping is something that Arctic experts like myself have been calling for, for some years now. I hope it's real. I hope it's not just an election promise."[3]
  • "We need it and we need it right now. But I'm still somewhat skeptical. This has been done before for cynical electoral politics."[7]

The Canadian Armed Forces new icebreakers

In 2007 the Stephen Harper government announced plans to build six to eight icebreakers for the Canadian Armed Forces Maritime Command.[8] The Maritime Command's new icebreakers will be based on the Norwegian Svalbard class. They will not be capable of operating in Arctic winter ice as a Polar Class icebreaker can. The Winnipeg Free Press quoted Gary Stern, the chief scientist aboard the CCGC Amundsen, who called Maritime Command's new design "slush-breakers".


In contrast to the $720 million CAD announced to the new CCG Polar Class icebreakers, the Navy Times reports that replacing either of the United States Coast Guard's two oldest Polar Class icebreakers could cost as much as $925 million USD.[9]

The 1985 Polar 8 initiative

In 1985 the Canadian government announced plans to build a fleet, known as the Polar 8 Class.[7] This project was cancelled in 1989.


  1. Arctic icebreaker, fishing port, tax break a start: northerners, CBC News, Wednesday, February 27, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-04.
  2. Chris Windeyer. Feds to replace old icebreaker, Nunatsiaq News, February 29, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-04. “Ottawa will put aside $720 million this year to commission the icebreaker, which the government says will have better ice breaking capability than the Louis St. Laurent, considered the workhorse of the Coast Guard.”
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lee Berthiaume. Icebreaker Replacement Deadline Looms: Despite $720 million in yesterday's federal budget, procurement for a new polar icebreaker will take eight to 10 years, Embassy, Canada's Foreign Policy Newsletter, February 27, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-04. “Despite setting aside $720 million in yesterday's budget to purchase a new polar class icebreaker, the government will be cutting things close if it wants to decommission the ageing Louis St. Laurent heavy icebreaker as scheduled by 2017, according to Canadian Coast Guard commissioner George Da Pont.”
  4. Brodie Thomas. Reaction mixed on fed's budget, Northern News Services, Monday, March 3, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-04.
  5. Stephen Maher. Little news not good news for region: $720 million allocated to replace coast guard icebreaker, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Thursday February 28 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-04.
  6. Tara Mullowney. Feds fall short: Ottawa must do more, politicians say, Southern Gazette, March 4 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-04. “...and $720 million in funding for the Coast Guard will translate into a polar class ice-breaker that will be based in Newfoundland...

    ...“This is a bigger boat, so you can add to that.””

  7. 7.0 7.1 Budget's "anywhere, any time" icebreaker welcomed, if it gets built:experts, Canadian Press, February 29 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-04.
  8. Bartley Kives. Red Amundsen our flag in white Arctic, Winnipeg Free Press, February 28, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-01.
  9. Philip Ewing. CG steps up bid to rescue icebreaker funding, Navy Times, Tuesday March 25, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-01.