Kerry-Lynne Findlay said Zodiac Hurricane Technologies Inc. of Delta, B.C., will construct 18 station-based and nine ship-based inshore-rescue boats that will be used across Canada.
The federal government has been criticized for its 2013 closure of a coast guard station on Vancouver's waterfront, with critics saying that delayed a response to a spill of 2,700 litres of bunker fuel into English Bay in April.
"We have invested the most of any Canadian government in history in our coast guard assets," Findlay said Friday. "We take it very seriously, and I know the coast guard personnel are the most professional men and women in the world."
She said people "should do their research" before criticizing the government over the coast guard's preparedness.
"Do your homework because they will find that we do have a world-class system here."
Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the vessels will be part of a fleet for search and rescue operations and conservation efforts.
The department said in an emailed statement that work on the boats will begin within the next month and will be finished by March 2017.
Five of the vessels will be deployed in B.C., it said, noting boats will go to the coast guard ships Sir Wilfrid Laurier and John P. Tully, as well as stations in Bella Bella, Sandspit and a training school in Bamfield.
"The new vessels will be stationed where there is operational need," the statement said. "The Vancouver harbour continues to be served by federally funded search and rescue assets, which protect and save lives."
According to Zodiac Hurricane Technologies Inc.'s website, the company is the largest manufacturer of professional rigid inflatable boats and its clients have included Canadian, American and French special forces, the RCMP and the U.S. Secret Service. (The Canadian Press, News 1130)
-- by Keven Drews in Vancouver