As part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS), the Government of Canada has announced that Seaspan Shipyards (Seaspan) will design and build a Polar Icebreaker, the flagship of the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaking fleet. The new ship construction program, which will sustain approximately 1,400 jobs at Seaspan’s Vancouver shipyard and 1,400 additional jobs in the marine industry across the country, is welcome and timely news for Seaspan employees and its cross-Canada supply chain. Work on the program is set to begin immediately upon the award of a contract.

With Canada’s current largest icebreaker, CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, due to retire at the end of the decade after 60 years of service, there is an urgent need to begin work on the multi-year replacement program. The new icebreaker will be the largest ship in the Coast Guard fleet and will play a critical role in enabling the Canadian Coast Guard to patrol and protect 243,000 km of coastline – the longest national coastline in the world. Nearly 70% of that coastline is in the Arctic, a region of increasing interest from other countries and a growing national priority for Canada. The multi-mission ship will also provide vital resupply to Arctic communities, support Arctic science, help ensure the free flow of trade and safe commercial shipping, and conduct search and rescue and environmental response.

Seaspan is set to work with Canada’s marine industry leaders, including Genoa Design International in Newfoundland and Labrador and Heddle Shipyards in Ontario, along with hundreds of small and medium Canadian companies. Bringing to bear a cross-Canada approach, the Polar Icebreaker program is expected to grow Canadian businesses, tap into talent and capability across the country, and create and sustain good jobs.

In line with the economic and industrial development objectives of the NSS to build and strengthen Canada’s marine sector, a recent study has indicated that for every dollar spent on the NSS at Seaspan, a dollar is added to Canada’s GDP.*

The icebreaker, Seaspan’s fourth class of NSS vessel, will be constructed at the company’s Vancouver shipyard, a high-capacity multi-program yard that is one of the most modern and efficient in North America and was purpose-built to deliver Canada’s largest and most complex ships. The Polar Icebreaker will be built concurrently with the second Joint Support Ship for the Royal Canadian Navy, the largest naval vessel by length ever to be built in Canada, and the largest and most advanced ocean science research ship for the Canadian Coast Guard.

*Source: Deloitte Socioeconomic Impact Study


“This is an important day for Seaspan employees and suppliers, and for shipbuilding in Canada and BC. With the Polar program, we can keep the NSS working as the important economic engine and strategic national asset it was designed to be. We have experienced shipbuilders, a high-capacity multi-program shipyard and expertise in delivering large complex vessels. Together with Genoa Design and Heddle Shipyards and one of the best supply chains on the planet, we have an incredibly talented coast-to-coast team ready and waiting to start building this ship today.”
– Mark Lamarre, Chief Executive Officer, Seaspan Shipyards

“Genoa has proudly supported Seaspan’s delivery of three state-of-the-art ships to the Canadian Coast Guard, and we look forward to building on this momentum with Canada’s new Polar Icebreaker. We’ve experienced firsthand the exponential growth made possible by the National Shipbuilding Strategy. From coast-to-coast, we are building the impressive technological innovation and readiness capabilities needed to build a sustainable domestic supply chain and ready future export opportunities. We have the experience, the expertise, and the ingenuity. We’re ready to get started.”
– Gina Pecore, Chief Executive Officer, Genoa Design International

“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone for the Canadian Coast Guard, the provinces of BC, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador, and the shipbuilding industry in Ontario. This truly pan-Canadian approach to shipbuilding will support thousands of jobs across the country as well as revitalize Ontario’s shipyards. At Heddle Shipyards, we could not be more proud to work alongside Seaspan Shipyards, Genoa Design and hundreds of other Canadian suppliers to deliver the urgently needed Polar Icebreaker to the Canadian Coast Guard.”
– Shaun Padulo, President, Heddle Shipyards


  • Canada’s Polar Icebreaker will be 150 metres long and 28 metres wide, and able to accommodate up to 100 personnel. It will be able to operate farther north, in more difficult ice conditions and for longer periods than any icebreaker Canada has.
  • Seaspan delivered the first ship under the NSS in 2019 and completed the first full class of vessels under the NSS in 2020.
  • Under the NSS, Seaspan has become a major economic and job creation engine. As of December 2019, Seaspan had contributed more than $1.5 billion dollars to Canada’s GDP and directed nearly $1B in contracts to more than 670 suppliers from coast to coast. (Source: Deloitte Socioeconomic Impact Study)
  • Work on the first Royal Canadian Navy Joint Support Ship (JSS) is well advanced. (Progress gallery)
  • Seaspan recently cut steel and started construction of Canada’s most modern ocean research ship, the Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel.
  • Seaspan continues to award contracts to Canadian businesses across the country, recently surpassing $1B in contracts on the JSS program alone.

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