About the National Shipbuilding Strategy

In 2010, the government made a commitment to create jobs and equip the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard with much-needed vessels. The National Shipbuilding Strategy is helping restore our shipyards, rebuild our marine industry and create sustainable jobs in Canada while ensuring our sovereignty and protecting our interests at home and abroad.

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Eliminating cycles of boom and bust

From the mid-1990s to 2010, Canada’s shipbuilding industry had slowed down significantly. There had not been any substantial new orders to construct vessels for many years. Compared to other countries, Canada’s shipyards were outdated and there was no easy access to equipment, supply lines and skilled workers. It was time for a new approach.

In 2010, the government made the decision to support Canada’s marine industry and build vessels here in Canada. This approach, called the National Shipbuilding Strategy, is developing a sustainable, long-term shipbuilding plan that benefits Canadians and the Canadian marine industry. Through the strategy, we are revitalizing Canadian shipyards and constructing vessels for the Navy and Coast Guard here in Canada.

The strategy allows the government and the shipyards to make significant investments in Canada’s marine industry, such as developing and maintaining expertise and creating sustainable employment across the country. It brings predictability to federal vessel procurement and aims to eliminate the boom and bust cycles of vessel procurement that slowed down Canadian shipbuilding in the past.

The government has not acted alone in building the strategy. It was developed following industry consultations. Third party experts are consulted on an ongoing basis to provide impartial assessments, advice and assistance to ensure that the government makes informed decisions.

Third party advice and reviews for the National Shipbuilding Strategy

Overall contracts related to the strategy between 2012 and June 2019 are estimated to contribute $13 billion to our gross domestic product, and create or maintain nearly 12,000 jobs in the Canadian economy annually during the period of 2012 to 2022.

Social and economic benefits for Canada

The government’s Industrial and Regional Benefits Policy (IRB) and the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy (ITB) ensure that Canadian industry benefits from Canada’s defence and security purchases. These policies are playing an important role in leveraging Canada’s defence and security spending to generate economic benefits for the country. Under these policies, shipyards and their major suppliers are undertaking business activities in Canada equal to the value of the contract, and providing important investments into targeted areas, such as:

In fact, the average salary in Canadian shipyards is 30% higher than the manufacturing average. Overall, the Canadian marine industry is innovative, and supports skilled workers, with a 2.5-times higher share of employment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields (such as engineers, scientists and researchers) than total manufacturing.

The strategy also continues to provide fair opportunities in the marine sector to businesses led by under-represented groups in the shipbuilding industry, including women, Indigenous Peoples and persons with disabilities. Partnerships are being forged with the 3 large vessel shipyards, federal departments, academic institutions, research organizations and other joint ventures to increase participation of under-represented groups in the sector.

In addition, through the Value Proposition, the strategy requires the shipyards to invest a value equal to 0.5% of contracts to benefit the domestic marine industry in 3 priority areas:

To date, the shipyards’ contracts have generated over $20 million in obligations under the strategy’s Value Proposition.

Related link

The Industrial and Regional Benefits, Industrial and Technological Benefits and Value Proposition: Generating social and economic benefits for Canadians 

What the strategy looks like

The strategy is focused on 3 pillars:

  1. Construction of large vessels (more than 1,000 tonnes of displacement)
  2. Construction of small vessels (less than 1,000 tonnes of displacement)
  3. Vessel repair, refit and maintenance projects

1. Construction of large vessels (more than 1,000 tonnes of displacement)

Following a competitive, fair, open and transparent process, the government established long-term strategic relationships for the construction of large vessels with 3 Canadian shipyards: Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards in British Columbia, Chantier Davie Canada Inc. in Lévis, Quebec, and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Together, the 3 shipyards are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade their facilities to meet the shipbuilding requirements for a modern Canadian fleet.

Learn about the 3 shipyards and stay updated on the status of current and upcoming large vessel construction projects.

Current projects to construct large vessels

2. Construction of small vessels (less than 1,000 tonnes of displacement)

Under the second pillar of the strategy, opportunities are available for Canadian shipyards and businesses across the country for small ship construction.

Explore our projects involving small vessels and stay updated on the status of current and upcoming projects.

Current projects to construct small vessels

3. Vessel repair, refit and maintenance projects

Under the third pillar of the strategy, all Canadian shipyards may compete for the repair, refit and maintenance of vessels. Extending a vessel’s life typically involves repairs and upgrades to improve its reliability and safety. Mid-life modernizations keep a vessel in service for its full operational life and maintain its reliability and efficiency.

Repair, refit and maintenance projects


The National Shipbuilding Strategy is comprised of federal and non-federal partners working together on the shipbuilding projects.

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