The National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) is a long-term commitment to renewing Canada’s federal fleet and reinvigorating Canada’s shipbuilding capability. Through the NSS, the Government of Canada has established a strategic relationship with Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, designating Seaspan as the builder of non-combat vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard. To get the job done, Seaspan is partnering with over 520 Canadian firms. Safway is one of them.
Have you ever seen a prefabricated home being assembled? Large sections are precision-built in a controlled setting and then brought onsite to be put together. Modern shipbuilding uses a comparable approach called block construction where large segments (blocks) of the ship are built at different stages and in different parts of the yard, before being moved to the building dock and lifted into position. Using this approach, modern shipyards like Seaspan’s can pre-install components and equipment like power, propulsion, electrical and water systems, and, notably the marine insulation that protects them all, provided by Seaspan partner Safway Services Canada.
Since 2017, Safway has been onsite at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards to provide marine insulation services for the Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (OFSV) for the Canadian Coast Guard and for the Royal Canadian Navy’s Joint Support Ships (JSS).
Installing marine insulation is complex and detailed work. “We don’t just come into the finished vessel and roll out bales of insulation,” says Rohan Momerelle, Area Foreman for Safway, with a laugh. “And we have to do it before, during and after the other trades do their work, so it’s important to have good communication and good working relationships, like we do at the Vancouver Shipyards.”
Preparing the hull for insulation is the first order of business and every care is taken by Safway workers to ensure consistent application, with metal pins, specifically sized, precisely located and evenly spaced, welded to the hull to hold the insulation in place. Then, before other elements like pipes, electrical trays, cabling, mechanical systems, and ladders (that would get in the way of securing the insulation to the hull) are put in, Safway moves on to actual installation.
“Insulation can be put in afterward, but if, for example, you are trying to install insulation through a ladder, that is going to be a lot less efficient, and potentially not as perfect in terms of quality,” says Momerelle.
“In-way-of” challenges during installation are just the beginning. Safway also has to contend with the elements (rain, snow, dirt and dust) and with inadvertent interference from the work of other trades (welding splatter, for example, could damage the integrity of the insulation – hence the need for good communication and coordination).
Words like ‘quality’, ‘consistency’ and ‘accuracy’ are frequently used when describing Safway’s approach to addressing the challenges of their work. Pride is another word that comes to mind.
Safway Canada is proud that the quality of their work with Seaspan is contributing to renewing the federal fleet and reinvigorating the shipbuilding industry in Canada and Seaspan couldn’t agree more. “Safway has been a valuable supplier to the OFSV Project,” says Greg Walker, Senior Subcontracts Specialist, “They have demonstrated a high level of skill, workmanship and efficiency that has helped overcome the many challenges of new ship construction here at Vancouver Shipyards.”
“Attention to detail matters in any skilled trade, but especially so with marine insulation,” explains Momerelle, “Our work not only has to pass Seaspan’s rigourous quality control inspection, but also inspections by the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy — they have important jobs to do and need the best ship possible! Happily, we’re more than up for the challenge.”