B.C. shipyards gearing up for federal work boost

The size of the pot of gold at the end of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy rainbow is known but it may still be a while before the benefits flow out to the industry.

With major projects on its order book, Seaspan Marine Corporation is going to need help from other yards and there is a frenzy of anticipation among them. Someone has to help with the routine BC Ferries work, maintaining the tug and barge fleet, and help keep the fishing fleet serviceable and a variety of yards is keen to step forward. Plus, there is the additional $2 billion set aside for new vessels under 1,000 tonnes and excluded from the NSPS contracts with Seaspan and Irving Shipyards and the $500 to $600 mil – lion budgeted for repairs and refits of existing federal fleet vessels.

The “Now Hiring” signs are up at Seaspan and its major yards — Victoria Shipyards, Vancouver Shipyards, and Vancouver Drydock. In fact, Victoria Shipyards began the search about 18 months ago, and according to its Vice President & General Manager, Malcolm Barker, “the unions have done an excel – lent job of filling the holes with the right kind of people”.

Smaller yards might be feeling the pinch finding skilled tradespeople, but the buoyant times are likely to prove a magnet for many to come to the West Coast. In fact, Barker says the future for the B.C. shipbuilding and repair industry “looks extremely bright” with the “next five years really bright”.