March 1 (UPI) -- The government of Canada awarded Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards with a contract to produce Queenston-class Joint Support Ships.
The project aims to replace the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessels currently in service with Canada's navy, and has an estimated budget of $1.7 billion. Under the contract, Seaspan will provide production and engineering services to support the program.
Canada plans to construct two of the vessels as part of its National Shipbuilding Strategy, but is considering building a third. The government expects the first vessel to be delivered by 2021, and the second by 2022.
The announced names of the new vessels are HMCS Queenston and HMCS Châteauguay.
Seaspan received the production order after completing an initial design review for the ships based on designs by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada. The company was previously contracted in December 2015 to supply equipment, propulsion systems and generators to finalize the design.
Once completed, the Joint Support Ships will be used to provide limited sealift capabilities, offshore operations support and core replenishment duties.