NIAGARA FALLS REVIEW, Ray Spiteri
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE – One of two new Royal Canadian Navy ships to be built at the end of the decade will honour the Battle of Queenston Heights.
Niagara Falls MP and federal Defence Minister Rob Nicholson announced Friday the names of the two joint support ships that will replace the auxiliary oiler replenishment ships.The existing vessels are around 40 years old and nearing the end of their service lives.
The Conservative government budgeted $2.6 billion for the new ships, but former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page warned in February the complexity of the ships and lack of Canadian expertise make it more realistic the cost could be closer to $4.1 billion.
“The joint support ships will be named the Queenston class and there will be two of them — the (Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship) Queenston and the HMCS Chateauguay,” Nicholson said during a press conference at Queenston Heights Friday. “It will be a proud moment for Canadians when these ships enter into service later this decade as they begin to fly the Canadian flag in waters near and far.”
The Battle of Queenston Heights, which was one of the defining moments of the War of 1812, marked its 200th anniversary last year.
This year is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Chateauguay, an 1813 fight south of Montreal.
“The new ships will be able to supply our naval task groups with the support and the supplies they need so that they can remain at sea for extended periods of time,” said Nicholson, who became the defence minister earlier this year after years in the justice portfolio. “The joint support ships will serve as invaluable assets for the Royal Canadian Navy as they defend our coast lines and contribute to peace and stability.”
The ships will provide underway replenishment capability for fuel and other supplies, and offer hospital facilities and strategic sealift for operations ashore.
The government selected a design for the ships, which will be built by Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd.
“There is a strong bond between the Royal Canadian Navy and the people of this country,” said Nicholson. “This deep sense of connection is reflected in the names we bestow on Her Majesty’s Canadian ships. The naming of these is very, very important. They evoke history.”
He said the government researches potential names for ships. Queenston and Chateauguay, because of their rich histories, were obvious choices.
“The government has taken it upon itself to make sure that we commemorate this important part of history. This is just one more step in recognizing that. We’re expecting that these two ships … will be commissioned towards the end of the decade, beginning in 2019, 2020.”