Ottawa-headquartered Federal Fleet Services (FFS) reports that the Government of Canada has confirmed a two-year extension to its at-sea support services contract for the combat support ship, M/V Asterix. Converted from a containership by FFS sister company Davie Shipbuilding, the ship has been providing worldwide service to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) since her deployment in 2018.
Asterix was converted at Davie in just 18 months from a containership to a military-specified support vessel at a cost far below that of a comparable newbuilding. Uniquely in Canada, Asterix is operated with a combination of FFS and the Royal Canadian Navy crew.
Asterix, post-conversion, is able to operate up to eight smaller boats with quick launch and recovery capability. Asterix has two aircraft hangars planned for two embarked CH-148 Cyclones, but big enough to hold CH-147F Chinooks, as well as a landing deck capable of handling the largest helicopters. The ship is crewed by 36 civilian personnel and up to 114 military personnel, with a 67-person detachment specifically aboard for replenishment duties.
A retractable thruster at the bow was added for additional maneuverability and redundancy. The extra thruster allows for dynamic positioning and improved station-keeping in Asterix.
For mission purposes the ship has rooms for crew and medical/hospital facilities for humanitarian missions, along with humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities. There is an area to treat and process evacuees and survivors; a large medical ward divided into two areas capable of treating up to 60. The ship also provides room for 350 in emergency situations.
Given Canada’s long-defined requirement for up to four permanent replenishment vessels, and the current plan for the delivery of two Protecteur-Class supply ships, extending the Asterix contract ensures the RCN can maintain essential replenishment-at-sea capabilities now and into the future.
The total optional lease period for Asterix is 10 years although Canada can declare its contractual purchase option at any time.