HMCS Athabaskan disposal

Sailors line the bow of HMCS Athabaskan during the ship’s paying off ceremony on March 10, 2017
Photo: FIS Halifax

Contract awarded for disposal of former HMCS Athabaskan

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident Staff

A contract has been awarded for disposal work on the former HMCS Athabaskan, and the ship will soon be towed from HMC Dockyard to the Marine Recycling Corporation (MRC) facilities in Sydney, Nova Scotia for dismantling.

Public Services and Procurement Canada announced the contract, worth $5.7 million, on January 18. Though MRC is headquartered in Port Colborne, Ontario, the entirety of the work, including demilitarization of equipment, remediation of hazardous waste and recycling of any remaining materials, will take place at the company’s Cape Breton site.

In a news release, MPs from both Cape Breton and southern Ontario commented on the deal as good news for the marine industry and local economies, as the contract is expected to create about 30 new private sector job. The dismantling is expected to be completed by summer 2019.

“Our government is ensuring that these historically significant vessels are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner, while creating jobs and bringing economic opportunities to communities across Canada,” added Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough.

HMCS Athabaskan was the last of the RCN’s four Iroquois-class destroyers in service when it was officially paid off in March of 2017. The ships were constructed in the 1970s with highly advanced technologies at the time, including new sonar and infrared technologies and the ability to launch two maritime helicopters at once. Notable deployments for the ship included Op FRICTION in 1991 during the Gulf War, as well as relief work in the United States following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and in Haiti after the country’s devastating Earthquake in 2010.

“The former HMCS Athabaskan served Canadians and protected our waters with distinction for more than 44 years. I am grateful to all Royal Canadian Navy members and veterans who have served with honour and dignity aboard this ship throughout its long and storied history,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in the news release.

The lack of destroyers in the fleet now creates a capability gap that for the Navy that will be restored with the construction of 15 Canadian Surface Combatants, with the first expected to be delivered in the mid-2020s.