Shipboard Confined Space Examination

Solicitation number EN578-20ISC3/66

Publication date

Closing date and time 2023/06/21 14:00 EDT

Last amendment date


    AMENDMENT 001:

    **Please note an attachment has been added.

    *Please note the ISC Website will be available on May 10, 2023 at 10:30 EDT

    This Challenge Notice is issued under the Innovative Solutions Canada Program (ISC) Call for Proposals 003 (EN578-20ISC3). For general ISC information, Bidders can visit the ISC website.

    Please refer to the Solicitation Documents which contain the process for submitting a proposal.

    Steps to apply:

    Step 1: read this challenge

    Step 2: read the Call for Proposals

    Step 3: propose your solution here

    Challenge title: Shipboard Confined Space Examination

    Challenge sponsor: Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

    Funding Mechanism: Contract


    Multiple contracts could result from this Challenge.

    Phase 1:

    • The maximum funding available for any Phase 1 contract resulting from this Challenge is : $150,000.00 CAD excluding applicable taxes, shipping, travel and living expenses, as required.
    • The maximum duration for any Phase 1 contract resulting from this Challenge is up to 6 months (excluding submission of the final report).
    • Estimated number of Phase 1 contracts: 3

    Phase 2:

    Note: Only eligible businesses that have successfully completed Phase 1 will be invited to submit a proposal for Phase 2.

    • The maximum funding available for any Phase 2 contract resulting from this Challenge is : $1,000,000.00 CAD excluding applicable taxes, shipping, travel and living expenses, as required.
    • The maximum duration for any Phase 2 contract resulting from this Challenge is up to 24 months (excluding submission of the final report).
    • Estimated number of Phase 2 contracts: 2

    This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to award any contract for the total approximate funding. Final decisions on the number of Phase 1 and Phase 2 awards will be made by Canada on the basis of factors such as evaluation results, departmental priorities and availability of funds. Canada reserves the right to make partial awards and to negotiate project scope changes.

    Note: Selected companies are eligible to receive one contract per phase per challenge.


    Kick-off meeting
     Ottawa or Halifax, NS

    Progress review meeting(s)
    Any progress review meetings will be conducted by videoconference.

    Final review meeting
    Ottawa, ON

    All other communication can take place by telephone, videoconference, and MS Teams.

    Challenge Statement Summary

    CBSA is seeking a small, cost-effective, retrievable, collision-tolerant inspection technology solution that can enter, explore and inspect areas of a marine vessel deemed “confined spaces” and can transmit real-time and recorded images and videos to marine inspection officers.

    Challenge Statement

    The Shipboard Confined Space Examination (CSE) Program is part of the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) on-going commitment to protect Canadians by examining goods, persons and vessels based on risk, while facilitating legitimate trade and travel in the marine environment. Given the volume of marine vessels arriving in Canada, CBSA focuses its resources by targeting vessels that pose a high risk from threats.

    Marine vessel inspections are a key activity in border risk management and involve rigorous CSE procedures, which are resource-intensive operations from an officer and agency perspective. Shipboard confined spaces can account for a significant part of a marine vessel. Using modern detection technology to enter, search and visually examine shipboard confined spaces improves Border Services Officers’ technical ability to perform a confined space examination safely in any Canadian port.

    Confined spaces are uniquely challenging to examine due to their configuration, location, limited access, and potential atmospheric and environmental hazards. Hazards in confined spaces include liquid and gas exposure risks, such as water, fuel, explosive gases, and low oxygen levels, contaminating the areas to be searched. Ship hulls are constructed in a manner that facilitates ship construction, improves function, and reduces weight, with many spaces and compartments of various sizes designed in. Large structural plates are made lighter using “lightening holes,” creating a labyrinth of spaces. This construction results in a network of shafts and tunnels for vessel maintenance, in many ways more complex than underground structures such as mineshafts and sewers.

    Desired outcomes and considerations

    Essential (mandatory) Outcomes

    The proposed solution must:

    1. Provide capability to explore confined spaces in marine vessels ranging from large, cavernous areas to tight pipe tunnels;
    2. Be able to capture and transmit live video of the confined space;
    3. Be able to fit, move through or bypass the network of lightening holes and manhole covers of minimum 41 cm width, in marine vessels;
    4. Be able to be remotely operated;
    5. Enable communications with operator from within the marine vessel (despite interference caused by vessel environment and construction);
    6. Be launched and retrieved by a single operator;
    7. Be collision tolerant up to 15 km/h.

    Additional Outcomes

    The proposed solution should:

    1. Be able to manoeuvre past and near ceilings and walls and overcome wall-propeller turbulence and ceiling suction;
    2. Be waterproof and submergible;
    3. Provide different spectrums of vision (thermal or infrared), for example provide simultaneous full HD and thermal/infrared imagery;
    4. Provide a “return home” or a “return to signal” feature under failure conditions through on-board processing of route and obstacle avoidance;
    5. Provide supplementary software for assessment, analysis of video and photos captured and development of reports.

    Background and Context

    The Shipboard Confined Space Examination (CSE) Program is part of the Canada Border Services Agency’s ongoing commitment to national security and public safety.

    Confined space examinations are in some aspects similar to cave and mine exploration, in terms of complex tunnels, structures, entrances and exits. Environmental risks in operating technology in these spaces include, but are not limited to, pressure changes while moving from one space/area to another and sparks from technology that can interact with potential vapors and other toxic or flammable fumes. These spaces may also be partially filled with water or other liquids. There is also a high risk of losing technology, which then requires physical entry to examine a confined space.

    In the CBSA marine environment, a shipboard confined space is defined as an enclosed or partially enclosed space that: 1) is not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy, except for the purpose of performing work, 2) has restricted means of access and egress, and 3) may become hazardous to a person entering it due to its design, construction, location or atmosphere, the materials or substances in it, or any other conditions relating to it. Confined spaces may include, but are not limited to: boilers or other pressure vessels, void spaces, pump rooms, storage tanks, cargo holds, ballast, oil, gas or other fuel tanks, lubricating oil tanks, fore and aft peak tanks, duck keels, double bottom tanks, cofferdams, shaft tunnels, engine room bilge spaces, spaces entered through a small hatchway or access point, cargo tanks, waste oil tanks, sewage tanks, rudder trunk and rudder horn, dunnage hatch, water tanks.

    Equipment breakages are frequent enough to hinder operators’ ability to perform a CSE, whether for inspection or training. Affordable, low-cost parts and labour, and affordable long term service agreements will be necessary for equipment upkeep, calibration, testing and servicing.


    All enquiries must be submitted in writing to no later than ten calendar days before the Challenge Notice closing date. Enquiries received after that time may not be answered.

    How to Prepare a Bid

    Contract duration

    Refer to the description above for full details.

    Trade agreements

    • No trade agreements are applicable to this solicitation process

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    Contact information

    Contracting organization

    Public Works and Government Services Canada
    11 Laurier St, Phase III, Place du Portage
    Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0S5
    Contracting authority
    Group, PSPC
    10 rue Wellington
    Gatineau, QC, K1A 0S5

    Buying organization(s)

    Public Works and Government Services Canada
    11 Laurier St, Phase III, Place du Portage
    Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0S5
    Bidding details

    Full details regarding this tender opportunity are available in the documents below. Click on the document name to download the file. Contact the contracting officer if you have any questions regarding these documents.

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    Summary information

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