Joint Support Ship

Project summary

The Royal Canadian Navy needs support ships. The auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) vessels that reached the end of their operational lives must be replaced. The Joint Support Ship (JSS) project will deliver two new ships, as outlined in Strong, Secured, Engaged, Canada’s defence policy. These Joint Support Ships will be built for the RCN under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

The future Joint Support Ship will provide:

  • Underway Support to Naval Task Groups: Underway support is best described as the re-supply of fuel, ammunition, spare parts and other supplies between ships at sea. This includes the operation and maintenance of helicopters, as well as task group medical and dental facilities;
  • Limited Sealift: JSS will be capable of transporting and delivering cargo both in support of task group operations and in support to operations ashore; and
  • Limited Support to Operations Ashore: To meet a range of possibilities in an uncertain future security environment, the JSS will leverage its onboard facilities to support operations ashore, including anything from combat to humanitarian and disaster relief.
  • Self-defence functions and the ability to respond to Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats to allow for operations in high threat environments

The construction of the first Protecteur-class JSS, the future HMCS Protecteur, will begin in June 2018, with delivery of the vessel in 2022/23. Following delivery by Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd, the RCN will conduct a series of trials to ensure the ship meets operational requirements. The second ship, the future HMCS Preserver, is expected to be delivered sometime in 2023/24.


Project phases

Currently in Phase 3: Definition


1. Identification

1. Identification

  • Completed through the National Shipbuilding Strategy
2. Options analysis

2. Options analysis

  • Completed through the National Shipbuilding Strategy
3. Definition

3. Definition

  • Revised project approval 1: June 2010
  • Revised project approval 2: April 2014
  • Revised project approval 3: December 2014
  • Revised project approval 4: June 2015
  • Revised project approval 5: August 2016
  • Revised project approval 6: forecasted for the fall of 2016
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Project approval implementation: forecasted for the fall of 2017
  • Contract award: forecasted for the fall of 2017
  • Construction start of the first JSS: 2018
  • First delivery: 2022/23
  • Initial operational capability: 2023
  • Full operational capability: 2022
5. Close-out

5. Close-out

  • 2025


Additional information

Project updates

Project updates

May 2018
The Government of Canada, in close collaboration with the prime contractor, Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd., investigated opportunities to improve the project schedule. As a result, the Early Block Build contract was awarded to start of construction of the ships in June 2018.

January 2017
With completion of the Preliminary Design Review, the Initial Design Review Contract was completed allowing the transition of the design effort to the Design and Production Engineering Contract.

December 16, 2016
The Design and Production Engineering contract was awarded to Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. Under the contract, the shipyard and its partners will undertake the remaining design work to further develop the JSS design to a production-ready state.

December 2015
Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. awarded the Long Lead Items contract to engage suppliers and select the equipment needed to finalize the design and to build the JSS, including items such as the propulsion systems and generators.

August 2014
An Initial Design Review contract comprised of three separate tasks awarded to Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. The Initial Design Review aimed to review the off-the-shelf ship design from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada.

June 2013
Government of Canada announces selection of the Military Off-the-Shelf option from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada as the ship design for the future JSS. Based on the German Navy Berlin class offering the best value and overall combination of benefits in terms of capability, risk and affordability.

June 2010
The Joint Support Ship project was launched. Based on a revised project approval, two design options were developed for comparison. The procurement strategy considered a “Military-off-the-Shelf” (MOTS) design and a ‘New’ design options in parallel aiming to select a single design to be provided to the competitively selected shipyard under the National Shipbuilding Strategy non-combat package for completion of the design and construct the vessel.

Benefiting Canadian industry

Benefiting Canadian industry

Industrial and regional benefits

The new Joint Support Ship (JSS) will be built for the Royal Canadian Navy under the non-combat work vessel component of the National Shipbuilding Strategy by Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd., which was selected through a competitive process in October 2011. Construction of these ships will be done in Canada at their shipyard in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. is delivering the contract modify the German design which will allow the ships to be built at Vancouver Shipyards using a Canadian supply chain and to meet Canadian mission requirements.

Vancouver Shipyards Co Ltd. is identifying and engaging with suppliers to acquire critical equipment for the first JSS that must be ordered to support the design and construction effort. This award limits any potential delays associated with incomplete design information and equipment deliveries to meet the requirement of the shipyard’s ship construction plan.


Some of the links below lead to websites that are not part of the Government of Canada and may be available in English only.

Technical information

Technical information

The names of the new Protecteur-class ships are HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver.

Protecteur-class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) vessels

The Royal Canadian Navy’s current Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) vessels will be replaced with the new Joint Support Ships (JSS).

The purpose of an Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) vessel is to re-supply deployed ships at sea. It greatly increases the effectiveness and flexibility of a Navy, as it allows them to remain at sea for longer periods. It can also apply when those assets are engaged, over an extended period of time, in surveillance of Canada’s extensive coastlines and sovereign waters.

The JSS will replace the core capabilities of the AOR ships, including:

  • The provision of fuel, ammunition, spare parts, food, and water, and other supplies
  • modern medical and dental care facilities, including an operating room
  • repair facilities and expertise to keep helicopters and other equipment functioning, as well as basic self-defence functions
Project costs

Project costs

The budget for the Joint Support Ship project is $3.4 billion (excluding taxes).

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