Interim Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ship helps fill capability gap

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Crowsnest - Fall 2017 / October 31, 2017

By Darlene Blakeley

A unique combination of military and civilian crew will operate the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) interim Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ship, Motor Vessel (MV) Asterix.

MV Asterix is a contracted civilian vessel that will provide at-sea refueling support, as well as additional auxiliary oil replenishment capabilities to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Work on MV Asterix is expected to be completed this fall at Davie Shipbuilding’s Québec shipyard. The ship will then undergo test and evaluations before being deemed operationally ready sometime in early 2018.

“Although a civilian ship, it will feature a mixed crew of both military and civilian personnel,” explains Commander Jacob French, Project Director, Interim Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment. “The CAF will provide mission specialists for the application of unique military skills sets, such as replenishment station operations, aviation operations and maintenance, and medical services.”

MV Asterix, which will operate on both coasts, is intended to help fill the RCN’s replenishment-at-sea capability gap as it awaits the construction and delivery of new Protecteur-class Joint Support Ships in 2022. The federal government has entered into a provision of service contract for a five-year period, with up to five additional one-year periods.

“The RCN is excited to begin operations with Asterix next year; in particular, Asterix will be a key enabler to sustaining our operations far from home, in areas such as the Indo-Asia Pacific region,” says Cdr French. “It is great to see the conversion work become a reality, and to see the progress from month to month on a ship built to help fill the at-sea replenishment needs of the RCN.”

The ship will routinely deploy to support naval forces within continental waters and overseas, and may also be employed to support rapid response operations and humanitarian assistance if required. The RCN role onboard, working with the civilian master and core crew, is to ensure that Asterix is fully prepared in all respects for the type of supporting roles it could be called upon to conduct.

“The RCN will be required to supply the right personnel to the right mission that will provide the appropriate functions onboard that are not normally conducted by civilians,” explains Cdr French. “The ability to develop seamanship skills onboard an Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ship is of the utmost importance to the RCN, and so MV Asterix will also serve as a means of keeping our seamanship skills from atrophy during the period leading up to the delivery of the new Joint Support Ships.”