Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships project on track



The new deepwater refuelling facility for Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) project is on budget, on schedule, and will be ready for the first AOPS in 2018.

In 2007, DND announced that Nanisivik, Nunavut, would be the site for the AOPS project. This facility will provide the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) with enhanced capability to conduct patrols in Arctic waters.

Shortly after the Nanisivik announcement, engineers from ADM(IE) met with AOPS Project Management Office staff to define the requirements for an Arctic refuelling facility. ADM(IE) engineers have a long history of working in the North, largely gained from recent years working on the Distant Early Warning Line Remediation project. Thanks to this experience, ADM(IE) engineers were able to quickly provide advice on infrastructure, logistics, costs and schedules. Through an open and transparent process, the design contract for the facility was awarded to WorleyParsons Canada.

Rodney Watson, project manager, Directorate Construction Project Delivery (DCPD), notes that “DCPD worked closely with the AOPS Project Management Office to define infrastructure requirements. The team then travelled across Nunavut to meet with stakeholders who provided feedback on the proposal. Most importantly, the team spent a considerable amount of time in Arctic Bay, meeting with many people and groups to explain the project.” The project proposal was submitted to the Nunavut Impact Review Board, which granted approval to proceed in October 2013.

In 2014, the construction contract was awarded to Almiq Contracting of Iqaluit, Nunavut. Almiq wasted no time in getting equipment to the site. By the end of October 2014, they had assembled a 60-person construction camp and a heavy equipment fleet had arrived by sealift. Almiq immediately began advertising for labour. The first full construction season was completed in October 2015. Mr. Watson adds that “it is an exciting time for everyone; after many years of site visits, the facility is finally taking shape. The work brings a great sense of satisfaction to the ADM(IE) team and to the AOPS Project Management Office, as many years of planning and preparation have gone into the development of the project, and we were all anxiously anticipating the day when we could finally put shovels in the ground.”

Working in the Arctic brings a number of unique challenges, quite different from those in more southern locations. In the summer, the contractors take advantage of 24 hours of daylight to maximize production. But the location also presents a daunting set of difficulties for them to overcome. Icebergs in the bay were frequent in 2015, and one even made contact with the jetty. Local wildlife monitors have been hired and are on regular patrol to ensure that animals such as polar bears stay away from the worksite. Winds easily reach 100 km/hr and often halt construction, and as Mr. Watson adds, “Internet and phone aren’t exactly ‘high-speed’.”

Mr. Watson goes on to observe that “what stands out to the team is the very real need for consultations with the community. The time spent meeting Arctic Bay residents and community leaders proved priceless. The project engineers learned what was important to these residents, and how they perceived the construction work and future ship activity. The project plan was adjusted to take their concerns into account, and today work is well underway, with a very solid relationship existing between the contractor, the community and DND.”

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