CCGS John G. Diefenbaker conceptual rendering.jpg
Conceptual rendering of CCGS John G. Diefenbaker released by the Canadian Coast Guard.
Name: John G. Diefenbaker
Namesake: John G. Diefenbaker
Owner: Government of Canada
Operator: Canadian Coast Guard
Builder: Uncertain
Cost: C$720 million (2008 budget)
C$1.3 billion (2013 budget)
In service: 2017 (initial plan)
2020s or later (current estimate)
General characteristics (preliminary)[1]
Type: Icebreaker
Displacement: 23,500 tonnes
Length: 150.1 m (492 ft 5 in)
Beam: 28 m (91 ft 10 in)
Draught: 10.5 m (34 ft 5 in)
Depth: 13.5 m (44 ft 3 in)
Ice class: Polar Class 2 Icebreaker(+)[2]
Installed power: Six diesel engines, 39,600 kW (53,100 hp) (combined)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric; two 11 MW (14,800 hp) shafts and one 12 MW (16,100 hp) azimuth thruster
  • 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) (max)
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) (cruise)
  • 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) (ice)
Range: Over 26,200 nmi (48,500 km; 30,200 mi) in Sea State 3
  • 25 days (full power)
  • 270 days (logistical)
  • 60 (core crew)
  • 40 (program personnel)
Aircraft carried: 2 × medium-lift helicopters
Aviation facilities: Helipad and hangar

CCGS John G. Diefenbaker[note 1] is the name for a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker that had been expected to join the fleet in 2021–2022 but now is significantly delayed. The ship had initially expected to be in service by 2017.[3] Her namesake, John G. Diefenbaker, was Canada's 13th prime minister. It was Diefenbaker's government that founded the Canadian Coast Guard in 1962.

The ship was initially to have been constructed by Seaspan Marine Corporation as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. However, both the timing and location of this build is now uncertain.

Project history

Officially known as the "Polar Class Icebreaker Project" as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS), the vessel's commissioned name was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a visit to Inuvik, Northwest Territories on 28 August 2008. The vessel has been identified as a Polar Class 2 icebreaker intended for year-round operations in moderate multi-year ice conditions.

In early February 2011, STX Canada Marine was awarded the contract to design the new icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. Although the majority of the design work will take place in the Vancouver offices of STX Canada, the design team will also include the Finnish engineering company Aker Arctic.[4] The work was initially planned to be complete by the end of 2013. The project was then allocated to Seaspan/Vancouver Shipyards to build the ship at Vancouver after the company completed work on the Joint Support Ship project. However, the latter project was significantly delayed and in 2019 John G. Diefenbaker was removed from the Seaspan yard and may now be built elsewhere, though both the timing and location are uncertain.[5]

If built, the ship will eventually have a crew of approximately 100. She is estimated to be capable of carrying fuel and supplies to be self-sufficient for 270 days and be able of making constant progress through 2.5 metres (8 ft) of ice.[6]

The C$720 million project was announced in the 27 February 2008 federal budget as a replacement for the nation's largest icebreaker and the flagship of the Canadian Coast Guard, CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent.[7][8][9][10]

Minister of Defence Peter MacKay stated that the icebreaker will be built in Canada.[11] As of the award of the NSPS contracts, John G. Diefenbaker will be built by Seaspan in British Columbia. Former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Loyola Hearn announced the icebreaker will be homeported in his riding of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. He also stated that the vessel will be larger than Louis S. St-Laurent which she will be replacing.[12]

On May 30, 2008, Chuck Strahl the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development wrote about the proposed icebreaker in a letter to the editor of the Windsor Star. Strahl wrote that the icebreaker would help protect the Arctic environment, and Canadian sovereignty. In addition he wrote that the Canadian Rangers would be expanded, and that a new Arctic research centre would be built in Resolute Bay.

Michael Byers, the Canada Research chair in global politics and international law at UBC, stated that "this icebreaker and new money for mapping is something that Arctic experts like myself have been calling for, for some years now. I hope it's real. I hope it's not just an election promise.[9] We need it and we need it right now. But I'm still somewhat skeptical. This has been done before for cynical electoral politics."[13]

The Canadian Coast Guard announced on 28 April 2010 that it was then "at the preliminary stages of conceptual design for the polar icebreaker. A "Request for Proposals" to undertake detailed design work was to have been ready mid-2011 with vessel construction to begin in 2013. [14] However, continuous scheduling delays on other projects at the Seaspan yard, as well as budgetary increases, resulted in the reallocation of the planned icebreaker to another yard in 2019.

In October 2012, a 1:25 scale model of John G. Diefenbaker was being evaluated in at the National Research Council's Institute for Ocean Technology in St. John's.[15] Additional testing was carried out at Aker Arctic's ice tank in Finland.[1]

In May 2013 the Vancouver Sun reported that the Harper government acknowledged that both John G. Diefenbaker and the Royal Canadian Navy's new Joint Support Ships faced a scheduling conflict.[16] According to the Vancouver Sun, because both vessels were scheduled to be built in the same facility, the Harper government would have to choose which project had priority, and went first. The Canadian American Strategic Review argued that John G. Diefenbaker better served protecting Canadian sovereignty than the Joint Support Ships, and should therefore get built first.[17] However, on 11 October 2013 the NSPS Secretariat announced that the Joint Support Ships would be built first, followed by John G. Diefenbaker. This means that the new polar icebreaker was delayed and the Canadian Coast Guard will have to start necessary measures to keep Louis S. St-Laurent in service until 2021–2022.[3][18]

In November 2013, it was reported that the budget for John G. Diefenbaker was revised up to 1.3 billion Canadian dollars, almost twice the initial estimate.[19] Melanie Carkner of the Canadian Coast Guard has said that part of the price increase was to cover future requirements for the ship.[20]

In November 2016, the Government of Canada announced a solicitation/request for proposals for the leasing of interim icebreakers under a fast track procurement process to fill the gap until and after John G. Diefenbaker reaches full operational capability. Chantier Davie Canada has proposed converting four existing icebreaking offshore vessels for this purpose: the US-flagged Aiviq and the Swedish Tor Viking II, Vidar Viking and Balder Viking.[21]


General characteristics

John G. Diefenbaker will have an overall length of 150.1 metres (492 ft 5 in) and beam of 28.0 metres (91 ft 10 in). Drawing 10.5 metres (34 ft 5 in) of water, the icebreaker has a displacement of 23,500 tonnes. She is projected to have a core crew of 60 and accommodation for additional 40 project personnel. Her facilities include laboratories and modular mission spaces, a moon pool, general purpose cargo hold and garage, multiple cranes and a helideck and hangar for two medium-lift helicopters. In addition, she is capable of receiving and refueling larger helicopters.[22]

John G. Diefenbaker will be classified by Lloyd's Register of Shipping. Her ice class is Polar Class 2, the second highest ice class according to the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) Unified Requirements for Polar Class Ships. Furthermore, the class notation Icebreaker(+) will result in additional structural strengthening based on analysis of the vessel's operational profile potential ice loading scenarios.[1] John G. Diefenbaker is one of the first vessels to hold this class notation.[2]

Power and propulsion

John G. Diefenbaker will be fitted with a fully integrated diesel-electric propulsion system consisting of six diesel generating sets with a combined output of 39,600 kW (53,104 hp). The power plant, divided into two separate engine rooms, provides power for all shipboard consumers from propulsion motors to lighting in the accommodation spaces.[1]

Initially, two propulsion alternatives were proposed during the preliminary design: a traditional three-shaft configuration with a centerline rudder and a hybrid propulsion system consisting of two wing shafts and an azimuth thruster in the middle for improved maneuverability. Of these, the Canadian Coast Guard selected the latter with two 11 MW (14,800 hp) wing shafts and a 12 MW (16,100 hp) azimuth thruster.[1][23] The combined shaft power, 34 MW (45,600 hp), is almost the same as that of the Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers Taymyr and Vaygach. This makes John G. Diefenbaker the most powerful diesel-electric icebreaker in the world and the third most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker after the two gas turbine-powered Polar-class icebreakers operated by the United States Coast Guard.[22] The icebreaker is also fitted with an air bubbling system that provides hull lubrication and reduces ice friction during icebreaking operations.[1]

For maneuvering at ports as well as stationkeeping capability in Sea State 5 and currents of up to 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) in open water, she will also be fitted with two 1,900 kW (2,548 hp) bow thrusters.[1]


John G. Diefenbaker is designed to break level ice with a thickness of 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) and with a 30-centimetre (12 in) snow cover at over 3 knots. In terms of icebreaking capability, this ranks her just below the largest Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers. Her operational range at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) in Sea State 3 is projected to be over 26,200 nautical miles (48,500 km; 30,200 mi) and she can operate in 2.2-metre (7.2 ft) ice at full power for 25 days. The logistical endurance of the vessel will be 270 days.[22] The new icebreaker will be able to achieve a maximum speed of about 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) in open water, but her normal cruising speed is around 12 knots.


  1. ^ CCGS stands for Canadian Coast Guard Ship


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Newbury, Scott; McGreer, Dan (October 2014). "Vessel report: Polar icebreaker" (PDF). Marine Technology. pp. 68–71.
  2. ^ a b "LR to class versatile icebreaker for Canadian Coast Guard". Lloyd's Register. Retrieved 2015-04-29.
  3. ^ a b "Arctic icebreaker delayed as Tories prioritize supply ships". CBC News. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  4. ^ "Aker Arctic helps design new Canadian icebreaker". Good News Finland. 29 February 2012. Archived from the original on 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
  5. ^ Withers, Paul (12 June 2019). "Trudeau government moves heavy-icebreaker job out of Vancouver". CBC News. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  6. ^ Pugliese, David (8 February 2012). "Polar Icebreaker Design Launched With Awarding of Contract to STX Canada". Ottawa Citizen.
  7. ^ "Arctic icebreaker, fishing port, tax break a start: northerners". CBC News. February 27, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-03-01. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  8. ^ Windeyer, Chris (February 29, 2008). "Feds to replace old icebreaker". Nunatsiaq News. Archived from the original on 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2008-03-04. Ottawa will put aside $720 million this year to commission the icebreaker, which the government says will have better ice breaking capability than the Louis St. Laurent, considered the workhorse of the Coast Guard.
  9. ^ a b Berthiaume, Lee (February 27, 2008). "Icebreaker Replacement Deadline Looms: Despite $720 million in yesterday's federal budget, procurement for a new polar icebreaker will take eight to 10 years". Embassy, Canada's Foreign Policy Newsletter. Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved 2008-03-04. Despite setting aside $720 million in yesterday's budget to purchase a new polar class icebreaker, the government will be cutting things close if it wants to decommission the ageing Louis St. Laurent heavy icebreaker as scheduled by 2017, according to Canadian Coast Guard commissioner George Da Pont.
  10. ^ Thomas, Brodie (March 3, 2008). "Reaction mixed on fed's budget". Northern News Services. Archived from the original on 2008-11-15. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  11. ^ Maher, Stephen (February 28, 2008). "Little news not good news for region: $720 million allocated to replace coast guard icebreaker". Halifax Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  12. ^ Mullowney, Tara (March 4, 2008). "Feds fall short: Ottawa must do more, politicians say". Southern Gazette. Archived from the original on January 1, 2013. Retrieved 2008-03-04. ...and $720 million in funding for the Coast Guard will translate into a polar class ice-breaker that will be based in Newfoundland..."This is a bigger boat, so you can add to that."
  13. ^ "Budget's "anywhere, any time" icebreaker welcomed, if it gets built:experts". The Canadian Press. February 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-04.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "The CCGS John G. Diefenbaker National Icebreaker Project". Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Archived from the original on 2010-10-16. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
  15. ^ "New polar vessel breaks the ice, on a small scale". CBC News. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  16. ^ Berthiaume, Lee (2013-05-07). "Feds face tough choice as naval resupply ships, icebreaker on collision course at Vancouver shipyard". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 2013-05-12. Retrieved 2013-05-13. This scheduling conflict was acknowledged in a recent Defence Department report tabled in Parliament, which noted that "the Joint Support Ship and the Polar Icebreaker are progressing on a very similar schedule such that they both could be ready for construction at the same time."
  17. ^ Priestley, Stephen (May 2013). "What are the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy Priorities? Scheduling Conflicts force a choice between JSS & Polar Icebreaker". Canadian American Strategic Review. Archived from the original on 2013-05-18. Retrieved 2013-05-18. There is no question that the JSS Project has become a major embarrassment [sic] for the Harper government. But this shouldn't be a decision based on political considerations. The only question that matters is which ship class adds the most to assuring Canadian sovereignty. Without JSS, the RCN loses much of its capacity to project Canadian military power abroad. Without heavy icebreakers, [4] Canada will lose much of its ability to establish a 'presence' in the High Arctic (as well as needed infrastructure support in the south during winter).
  18. ^ "National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy Secretariat announces Vancouver Shipyards to build the Joint Support Ships in 2016". Canada News Centre. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  19. ^ "Coast guard's new icebreaker to cost twice as much as originally estimated". Calgary Herald. 13 November 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  20. ^ Pugliese, David (13 November 2013). "Cost Of New Coast Guard Icebreaker Almost Doubles". Postmedia Network Inc. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  21. ^ "Project Resolute" (PDF). Chantier Davie Canada. April 2017. Archived from the original on 21 January 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  22. ^ a b c McGreer, Dan (2013). "Design of the CCG Polar Icebreaker" (PDF). STX Canada Marine. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-01-04. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  23. ^ "Canadian Polar icebreaker reaches phase III" (PDF). Arctic Passion News. Aker Arctic Technology Inc. January 2014. Retrieved 2018-12-02.

External links

  • "Icebreakers and the Arctic Ocean". Slave River Journal. 2008-11-14. Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2008-11-14.