OTTAWA — Call it the case of the missing icebreaker.
The fate of the Canadian Coast Guard’s next heavy icebreaker has been wrapped in mystery since the federal government quietly removed the $1.3-billion project from Vancouver shipyard Seaspan’s order book in May.
But Canadian Coast Guard Commissioner Mario Pelletier says plans to build the icebreaker, which was first promised by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government more than a decade ago, have not been cancelled.
Rather, Pelletier tells The Canadian Press that the icebreaker is back on the drawing board as the Coast Guard looks to update the original design to account for changes in technology and the government’s requirements.
Exactly when and where the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, as the icebreaker is to be named, will be built — and how much it will ultimately cost — remains up in the air.
But Pelletier says he is confident the icebreaker it is expected to replace, the 53-year-old CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, will be able to continue operating through to the late 2020s thanks to various upgrades.
The Diefenbaker was originally supposed to replace the St-Laurent in 2017.