Seaspan Shipyards has hosted the ceremonial keel laying for the Royal Canadian Navy’s future joint support ship (JSS) HMCS Protecteur.

HMCS Protecteur is the first of two joint support ships to be built by Seaspan as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) and is scheduled for delivery in 2023.

It is the fourth vessel to be designed and built by the company under the NSS and will be able to conduct a complete range of military operations in high-threat environments.

HMCS Protecteur has a length of 173.7m and a breath of 24m.

Seaspan Shipyards CEO Mark Lamarre said: “At Seaspan, we know that building ships requires you to build more than ships. You need to build a workforce, an industry, a supply chain, and strong partnerships.

“The JSS will be the largest naval ship ever built in Canada, a tremendous accomplishment for all the skilled and committed men and women involved in her design and construction.”

The vessel is based on the German Type-702 Berlin-class design and will include advanced damage control and self-defence systems.

HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver, the two multi-purpose ships, will replace the previous Protecteur-class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessels and can also integrate with any Canadian or allied naval task group.

Construction of the early blocks of the first ship started in June 2018.

Royal Canadian Navy Commander vice-admiral Art McDonald said: “The Protecteur-class ships that the Joint Support Ship project is delivering will build on our navy’s proud legacy of delivering excellence at sea.

“Once delivered, these warships will be strategic assets that will once again afford Canada the sovereign capacity to deliver, even in harm’s way, an enduring at-sea replenishment and joint sustainment capability, as well as significant humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capacity.”