O NSPS, NSPS! wherefore art thou NSPS?

I was asked recently to make a comment in a forum between two seasoned mariners, now working ashore in senior level positions. Of course there is no way I want to be in between two sailors looking for “blood”, but it did make me think about expressing my thoughts on the federal government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, aka the NSPS, that have been tumbling around in the old vacuous cranium of mine.

At the heart of their discussion, is really an expression of frustration at Canada’s inability to build a federally funded (in particular) ship, and another view, from inside a committed organization working towards the NSPS – the Canadian “holy grail” of shipbuilding.

I think the long delays and inaction on shipbuilding in Canada, is a bona fide point of contention for marine related businesses that have made considerable anticipatory investments, just the same as Seaspan and Irving, but that don’t have any agreements or guarantees from the Federal or Provincial governments.

NSPS better for some, so far…
picture from Interwebs

I think the business community, and tax payers, have a right to be a little miffed at the delays and seemingly endless “planning” these projects have displayed… for decades. The result is, like many other countries, is that we have lost shipbuilding capacity. Other countries like Norway, Netherlands, etc, have developed “hybrid” shipbuilding techniques, which, to some in Canada, we should adopt. This is not a reflection on our individuals craftsmen or organizations, but I think with NSPS, there should have to be a sober assessment of what we are capable of doing here in Canada at this time, with resources at hand.

I am the opinion that the government, and industry, has dropped the ball – 30 years ago – on pretty much all things marine; regulations, shipbuilding, human resource development, etc. It’s great to see a willingness to redevelop Canada’s shipbuilding capacity; I want to see it succeed. But I know the cost are very high for this, and I am skeptical that it is an efficient use of my tax dollar.

Seaspan redeveloped yard in
Vancouver – from Seaspan

But then again, I don’t mind my tax dollars going to see my fellow tradespeople, essentially our kids, producing real things, here in Canada. It is far more palatable to me, that my boys might have access to a real job market, outside of the “Service Industry”, being a “Professional Students” or involved in the Bullshit Arts like “Finance”, “Real Estate”, sales, and such. I certainly would like my tax dollar developing real jobs, instead of going to some secret security agency, shady Senate perks, or crack smoking mayors, all righteous in their own minds, but hardly beneficial to a healthy nation.

I also don’t like my tax dollar being used by political parties to buy my own votes, and I can certainly understand why some people might feel that way with the NSPS project, thus far. I think what I am getting at is there a sense, again, that the NSPS, which started out with great fanfare and promise, will not be able to shake off the Canadian shipbuilding trends of the past decades. But meanwhile, important sovereign assets, which belong to the people of Canada, not corporations or political parties, are being neglected, and their important duties they provide to the people of Canada are being curtailed.

It is pretty clear I am not offering any solutions to their discussion but it is nice to get it off my chest… Aside from that there is also a CBC info graphic on the NSPS, which some of you might find interesting.

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