Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the Canadian Coast Guard is undergoing a "complete fleet renewal," and the majority of new vessels will be built in B.C.

Speaking at the HMCS Discovery naval base in Stanley Park, Trudeau said the government plans to build 18 large ships, which is expected to provide years of work for Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver and Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax.

"Canadians deserve better than having this fleet rust out. And dealing with this problem is long overdue," Trudeau told reporters Wednesday.

It’s estimated that more than a third of the coast guard’s 26 larger vessels have exceeded their lifespans, with some not even expected to last until they can be replaced.

Sixteen of the 18 ships announced Wednesday are considered multi-purpose vessels, which will be used for everything from search and rescue, to environmental response, patrols and light ice breaking.

The design of those ships has not yet been finalized, but it’s expected they will be built by Seaspan workers in North Vancouver.

"This fleet renewal project will be anchored right here in British Columbia," Trudeau said. "Creating certainty and long-term viability for the Vancouver shipbuilding industry, which means even more good, middle-class jobs down the road."

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Coast Guard, Jonathan Wilkinson is hoping the work on those ships will start "within the next few years."

"It’s a book of business which is 20 years in length for Seaspan. It gives them long term visibility on their business. They still have some other ships we have already contracted from them to finish," Wilkinson told CTV News Vancouver. "It gives them certainty, business certainty. And it gives the workers there certainty around their futures."

The project will mean jobs in everything from ship design and engineering to welding and inspection, Trudeau said.

The two Arctic and offshore patrol ships are slated to be built by Irving shipbuilding in Halifax.

The government says it also intends to add a third Canadian shipyard as a partner for future projects.

The preliminary cost estimate to build the 18 ships is $15.7 billion.