On April 8, 2022 the first of four Sea to Shore Connector systems completed final sea trials after being delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in Esquimalt. While the final trials took place, the first initial cadre training class of 16 RCN sailors received both classroom and hands on experience assembling and driving the system around Esquimalt.
The Sea to Shore Connector system is a sub-project of the new Protecteur Class replenishment ships, valued at approximately $11.8 million (taxes included) under the small vessel program of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. The system was designed and built by NAVAMAR inc. in Montreal. The project will eventually deliver a total of four units to the RCN, which are intended to be used in conjunction with the JSS to deliver cargo and personnel ashore in austere or damaged ports where the ships may not have direct access to berthing facilities. It is also capable of being trucked on four standard flatbed tractor trailers. It can also be used as a standalone system, such as for Op LENTUS, in dealing with flooding in the interior of Canada.
The system is a modular self-propelled pontoon barge, and comes in two configurations: a 3 x 3 and a 3 x 4 version. It has a maximum cargo capacity of 81 tonnes, is capable of carrying sea containers, personnel, or large vehicles. It can be beached with a roll-on roll-off ramp forward, reach speeds of 5 knots, and is extremely maneuverable with directional thrusters.
This new capability will greatly enhance the ability of the RCN to provide support to joint Canadian Armed Forces operations, including the movement of personnel, equipment, and sea containers to and from the future Protecteur Class. The remaining three units will be delivered throughout 2022 and 2023. This delivery marks a major milestone for the project.