Irving Shipbuilding has started construction of the fourth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) at Halifax Shipyard.

The vessel is part of a programme to build six of these ships for the RCN as part of Canada’s focus on surveillance of its territory, particularly in the Arctic regions.

Designated as the Harry DeWolf-class, the six AOPS ships are designed to patrol Canada’s waters and northernmost regions. In addition, they will be able to navigate internationally and contribute to worldwide operations.

Canada expects the new class of vessels to enhance the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) capabilities and presence in the Arctic.

The first vessel under this programme, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf, is anticipated to join the navy’s fleet this summer, while the fourth ship is scheduled for 2022.

Canada National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said: “These vessels will be critical assets to the RCN, enhancing our Arctic capability and greatly contributing to the future success of our operations in the most isolated regions of Canada.

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“These vessels will be critical assets to the RCN.”

“As outlined in ‘Strong, Secure, Engaged’, our government is delivering modern and versatile equipment to our women and men in uniform so they can successfully accomplish the work we ask of them.”

The RCN can use the ships to undertake a variety of missions, including coastal surveillance, search-and-rescue, drug interdiction, support to international partners, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief.

In addition, Irving has structurally assembled the second AOPS, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, also at the Halifax shipyard.

The shipyard joined all three sections of the vessel, with further outfitting of the ship set to continue.

Irving noted that construction is also underway of the centre and stern mega-blocks of the third AOPS, the future HMCS Max Bernays.

The company began steel-cutting for the future HMCS Max Bernays in December last year.