Nova Scotia-based Irving Shipbuilding has been selected by the Canadian Government to carry out construction work on arctic offshore patrol ships (AOPS), according to officials.

The AOPS contract, valued at C$1.9bn, aims to provide six to eight ice-capable offshore patrol ships to the Canadian Armed Forces to bolster sovereignty in Canada’s waters.

Originally announced by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2007, the new vessels were initially set for commissioning by 2013 but the plan was scaled back because of issues with the cost.

The patrol ships are set to be the first Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) vessels to be delivered under the national shipbuilding procurement strategy (NSPS), with the first expected to be ready by 2018.

Lockheed Martin Canada is one of the project’s prime contractors. Irving Shipbuilding’s tier one suppliers are contracted under the NSPS.

Last year, OSI Maritime Systems (OSI) was selected to design integrated bridge and navigation subsystems for the project.

The new AOPS will enable the RCN to operate in offshore environments throughout the year and will supporting a range of missions, including domestic surveillance and search and rescue.