$130M Nanisivik Base to Open Soon

The Canadian Armed Forces is close to completion of its Nanisivik Naval Refueling Base near Arctic Bay in Nunavut. 

The Department of National Defence confirmed to Construction North of 60 magazine by email that the $130 million facility is expected to be operational in 2018.

“The HMCS Harry DeWolf is scheduled for delivery in 2018,” says Daniel Le Bouthillier, National Defence’s head of media relations, public affairs. “The Arctic/offshore patrol vessels will be large, ice-capable ships, more than 100 metres long, and designed for a variety of missions in Canadian waters and abroad.”

The history of the refueling base goes back to 2007, when the project was first announced. The new facilities were to be part of a federal government commitment to protect Canada’s security and sovereignty in the North. Several site studies ensued and infrastructure requirements were confirmed. Cost estimates for the project were adjusted as DND project officers became more familiar with the site, the Arctic environment, and its challenges.

In 2010, the Royal Canadian Navy developed a list of potential requirements for the Nanisivik Naval Facility, with an estimated cost of $258 million. National Defence chose instead to pursue a scaled-back facility that would provide essential capabilities with a lower budget. 

The new plan was to construct and operate a docking and refueling facility for the Navy and other government vessels such as those of the Canadian Coast Guard. Space was also planned for the Coast Guard to store cargo during annual Arctic re-supply missions.

The new build includes fuel storage tanks for ships and helicopters, a site office, a wharf operator’s shelter, and an unheated storage building. The work also includes modest repairs to an existing jetty and helicopter landing pad.  

Leading up to a construction contract award in 2014 to Almiq Contracting Ltd., other work had to be completed, including: facilities design, geotechnical studies, condition studies for the existing jetty, environmental work and cost estimates.

In the summer of 2014, Almiq built a 60-person construction camp, transported materials to the site and completed survey work. 

The first full season of work on the facility ran from June to early October 2015. Almiq worked on and around the jetty, and began building the containment berms for the naval distillate (or ship fuel) tanks. Naval distillate will be stored in tanks placed in containment berms, designed to limit the fuel to a lined area and prevent any spills or leaks from contaminating the ground.

During the 2016 work season from June to September, the construction camp operated near full capacity though workers from Arctic Bay were transported to the site and home each day.

Throughout the design and building process, DND consulted with the Hamlet of Arctic Bay, including meetings and presentations to the Mayor, Council and other stakeholders on many occasions. The DND project team continues to provide leaders of the local Inuit community with regular updates on the project. Also, Almiq Construction has been directly involved with public relations, hosting ‘Open House’ presentations in the community prior to the start of each work season.

In addition to the Nanisivik Naval Facility, DND has signed a contribution agreement with the Government of Nunavut to provide $4.5 million in funding for upgrades to the highway from Arctic Bay to Nanisivik. This highway is owned and operated by the GN and to support the naval facility, the Nanisivik road must be maintained in good condition.

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