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  • 10 Oct 2019 by CMISA In the News

    Picture it: it’s after midnight but still light out; you’re approaching 77’ N latitude off Ellesmere Island and still heading north; the Arctic waters are dead calm with small bergy bits and growlers scattered about; and you’re on the bridge of HMCS Ville de Quebec, a Canadian frigate. It’s magical. Few people ever have the chance to travel to such awe-inspiring parts of our planet and to do so as a guest of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was nothing less than an opportunity of a lifetime.

    Along with a group of fellow Canadians from non-military walks of life, I was participating in a program the RCN calls Canadian Leaders at Sea (CLaS). Simply put, it is an effort to bring together community leaders from across the country to provide the Navy with a chance to showcase what it does, how it does it, and who makes it all happen. Typically, these are 2 or 3 days voyages out of Halifax or Esquimalt but occasionally there are other exciting opportunities such as this summer’s Arctic patrol. It provides the participants with a rare opportunity to really be immersed in life onboard a Canadian warship.

    The Canadian Navy is one of those elements of our society that everyone knows of, but that few know very much about. Our ships and crews operate off our coasts and in our major waterways as well as around the world on missions with our allies and at the behest of the United Nations. The RCN has a history and tradition of punching far above its weight in almost everything it does and simply put, the CLaS program is an effort to make sure that more of our citizens become aware of our navy.

    All the positives aside, the Navy has always had a challenge recruiting and retaining good women and men. The jobs themselves are challenging and exciting; the travel is often global; and the kitchen is always mere steps away ensuring that you always have lots of great food to keep you going. However, the very nature of the job involves being onboard ship for extensive periods of time and frankly, that’s not for everyone. It can be difficult being away from family and friends and for some, it’s too much. But for those who can find the right balance, it is an incredible career path. The education, the training and the responsibilities that are given to our sailors are truly hard to beat. Watching the crew perform their various jobs throughout my time with the ship demonstrated their professionalism time after time. The frigate really is a small city and all the roles we see day to day in our regular lives are in some way present onboard ship.

    This is one of the reasons the CLaS program exists. It seeks to get the word out through these community leaders from across the country that the Navy is a viable professional option for Canadians. Our National Shipbuilding Strategy has new ships being built here in Canada for both the Navy and the Coast Guard and they will be entering service very soon. The RCN finds itself below the number of full-time sailors it requires today to do all that it needs to do and the personnel challenge will only increase as we add new ships. Thus, the need to find creative ways to get the word out.

    The CLaS program is a comprehensive introduction to life on a warship. This past August, the participants donned damage control gear and were shown how to fight fires in smoke-filled rooms. We experienced man overboard drills and high-speed manoeuvring exercises. We saw how the engineering systems work and explored the engine rooms and electrical spaces. We were introduced to “the best cook in the Navy” and his team, saw how injuries are cared for far from shore, and watched the bridge and operations teams in action. In effect, we saw a little bit of almost everything. We can now state with great certainty that the Navy has some impressive opportunities especially for Canadian youth looking for an exciting career.

    My selection of an Arctic voyage meant that I joined the ship by small boat in a community far from the ship’s home port. Those folks who participate in the program from the major ports get to see the ashore facilities as well and explore how the Navy base supports the fleet at sea. It’s a comprehensive tour. For me however, being in the Arctic was truly special. It’s Canada but a part of our country that few of us get to see or even begin to understand.

    The snow had only recently left the ground in Pond Inlet which is where I joined the ship. Seemingly perpetual snow cover aside, the Arctic is changing rapidly. Few glaciers that I saw on the trip actually make it all the way to the waters edge these days – the majority of them are like a receding hair line, creeping back higher and higher into the hills above, far from shore. The waters we traveled had ice and icebergs but nowhere near as much or as many as I had anticipated. Those onboard who had been in the Arctic before told me that the differences even over the last 5 or 10 years are stark and unnerving.

    This too is Canada. We need to be cognisant of the effects of the changing climate on our fellow Canadians as well as the wildlife that makes the Arctic their home. The changing ice situation means there are more tourist boats, cruise ships, cargo ships as well as foreign survey and military vessels entering our waters every year. Our Navy and our Coast Guard are going to be busier and busier as the conditions continue to change and we need to be ready for it.

    My take-aways from my time with the ship in the Arctic were many but my message here is simple: the Navy is a great place to learn, work and grow. Canada is a global trading nation with vast coastlines and huge climate challenges. We need an effective Navy and the same goes for its cousin, our Canadian Coast Guard. We need to make sure that our youth know of the opportunities and possibilities that await onboard our Canadian ships.


    Colin Cooke is the President and CEO of the Canadian Marine Industries and Shipbuilding Association. He was a participant of the RCN CLaS program this past August! For more information on the CLaS program, please email

    View it on Frontline Defence p. 10-11

  • 10 Sep 2019 by CMISA In the News

    Having just returned from the Arctic on board HMCS Ville de Quebec, I was able to witness first-hand how the glaciers are receding and ice patterns are changing. Increased commercial traffic and the race for Arctic sovereignty converged with a heavily aged Coast Guard fleet means there is no time to waste for the replacement of Canada’s icebreaker fleet.

    It is a matter of urgency — for national security, the economy and for the protection of the environment. We can no longer rely on an icebreaker fleet built in the 1960s and 1970s and as building ships takes time, there is no time to waste.

    Fortunately this summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched a procurement to seek a third national shipbuilder and the deadline for submission just closed.

    Adding the capacity of a third shipyard to the National Shipbuilding Strategy is prudent, responsible and common sense. After eight years and only one ship delivered, it became crystal clear that the program was badly in need of extra capacity. And if we learned anything from the last eight years, it is that building a shipyard to build ships is not a practical, timely or cost-effective solution.

    The past seven years have witnessed a renaissance in shipbuilding in Canada. From LNG- and battery-powered ferries to complex subsea construction vessels, an offshore fisheries science vessel and a naval support ship, Canadian shipbuilders have put our industry back on the map, in several cases earning international applause. Now we need to leverage the existing experience, skills and capacity we have built up to deliver a new fleet of icebreakers for the Canadian Coast Guard.

    This is particularly the case for the two classes of ship which will be built at Canada’s third national shipbuilder. Six 8,000-tonne heavy icebreakers and one or two 23,000-tonne polar icebreakers. These very large and complex ships are not something that can be built by the inexperienced. They will work in the harshest Arctic and sub-arctic conditions, crucially maintaining our trade routes, protecting the environment and ensuring our national security and sovereignty. We owe it to the men and women of our nation’s Coast Guard to build these vessels to the highest standards in a timely fashion right from the get-go.

    That is why the government’s procurement department has insisted that Canada’s third shipbuilder in the strategy follows the same requirements as were established in the original National Shipbuilding Strategy competition from 2011, most notably that in order to qualify, Canadian shipyards must have at least built a small vessel of just 1,000t. If a shipbuilder can’t meet those basic requirements, then there is no way they would be ready to build the monstrous vessels which are so badly needed by the Canadian Coast Guard.

    The solution for this is a yard that has the capability, experience and capacity to deliver what the Coast Guard needs and do it quickly and efficiently. We need it to begin work yesterday so the choice the government is faced with is indeed quite limited.

    The government knows that Canada needs a third national shipbuilder which will deliver a timely, quality solution and our members, comprising shipbuilders, shipyards and marine suppliers, stand ready to build and maintain Canada’s future Coast Guard fleet.

    Let’s get it done. The bids are in and while it will be of no surprise to anyone who the winner almost certainly is, we need to get this process moving forward so that our Canadian suppliers can ramp up and rise to the challenge.

    After four years, it is time for the government to act.

    Colin Cooke is President and CEO, Canadian Marine Industries and Shipbuilding Association (CMISA).

    Source: Edmonton Journal

  • 05 Mar 2019 by CMISA In the News

    Well, we’re underway! The new Canadian Marine Industries and Shipbuilding Association excitedly launched this past April during the Mari-Tech 2019 conference in Ottawa. Building on the heritage of the shipbuilding industry in Canada and indeed, on that of the venerable Canadian Shipbuilding Association that represented our shipyards for so many years, CMISA aims to be broader in scope as it embraces the entire sector, from design to engineering to software to components to the yards themselves – we are the new national voice for the marine industry in our country.

    We have challenged ourselves with an awkward acronym: is it See-MISA, Smisa, C-M-I-S-A? But the words in the title are critical – this is a Marine Industry association. Our modern shipyards are not vertically integrated. They are just one part in the process of manufacturing, maintaining and repairing vessels. They may have a thousand different companies supplying them with what they need to make them viable and able to efficiently and effectively do what they do. As is the case in so many other aspects of life, it takes a community to build a ship. CMISA exists to give that community a voice, and to support it in any way possible. We want to see a strong, profitable, innovative sector that is able to provide well-paid work to a professional workforce looking after the ship-related needs of our maritime nation.

    Broadly speaking, CMISA is promoting and supporting the following efforts:

    1. Build and maintain ships in Canada (Build & Maintain)
    2. Support business opportunities for our marine industry members (Support)
    3. Sustain a network to voice our concerns and promote our solutions (Sustain)

    To achieve that, our members will:

    • Have a voice in Ottawa;
    • Be a part of a national network of marine industry peers and have an opportunity to shape the voice of the association;
    • Enjoy access to business opportunities and services;
    • Be able to access industry information and support for their business initiatives;
    • Be able to access conferences and events created specifically for this sector.

    CMISA is now open for business and we are looking forward to working and partnering with existing groups and associations across the country. We anticipate some excellent collaborations based on our initial conversations and are excited about what is coming together for the year ahead. That said, we also need your support. Please have a look at our a-work-in-progress website and keep an eye on our progress. Your participation and your guidance early in our efforts can’t help but make for a stronger association.

    So reach out, ask questions, make suggestions, and please join the new Association. We are stronger when we are all working together.

    Source: BC Shipping News - Vol.9, Iss.6 - July/August 2019