December 28, 2022
What a year it was for Seaspan Shipyards. Whether it was building or designing ships for the Royal Canadian Navy or the Canadian Coast Guard, completing regular maintenance on artic-bound cruise ships, or undertaking long-term upkeep on our Navy’s existing fleet of frigates and submarines, it was a busy year for our teams in North Vancouver and Victoria.
At Vancouver Shipyards, we currently have three first-of-class ships in the yard which is a first for even the most seasoned shipbuilders on our team. We are building the first Joint Support Ship (JSS) for the Royal Canadian Navy, we have also cut steel on a second Joint Support Ship, and we are building the Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (OOSV) for the Canadian Coast Guard. And that’s just what is in the yard; we are also in the design and engineering phases for the Polar Icebreaker and the Multi-Purpose Vessel Program.
As you might have seen on Seaspan’s social media channels, there were a number of exciting progress updates in 2022 for the first Joint Support Ship (JSS) that we’re currently building for the Royal Canadian Navy. At the beginning of the year the ship looked considerably different than it does today.
The longest naval vessel ever to be built in Canada continued to grow in 2022. But aside from getting longer, the JSS also grew taller this year. In February, we capped off the vessel’s engine room with a 205 tonne grand block, and shortly after in April, we began to build UP when the ship’s first superstructure block added to the hull. The build continued skyward throughout the spring and summer with a number of blocks being erected to the hull, including one which contains the Replenishment at Sea (RAS) station. While those were all noteworthy milestones for the ship, the most exciting block lift happened in July, when the JSS’s bridge was put in place atop the hull, bringing the height of the structure to 32.2m above baseline. More than 90% of the ship’s blocks are structurally complete and over 80% have been erected to the hull.
Those were all visually exciting milestones and were particularly visible if you happened to be floating by the shipyard. But a considerable amount of work has been undertaken within the vessel as well, such as beginning the installation of electrical cables, which will continue through 2023.
Not to be outdone by its Navy counterpart, the Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (OOSV), currently being built for the Canadian Coast Guard, also had a monumental year at Vancouver Shipyards.
On November 25, we hosted the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, as well as representatives from Squamish Nation, the Canadian Coast Guard, and key suppliers to celebrate the keel laying for the OOSV. In the leadup to this ceremony, the ship’s engine room was moved to the erection berth alongside the JSS, officially marking the start of the ship’s construction phase.
In 2022 we’ve been hard at work manufacturing and assembling the blocks that will form the OOSV. As of the midway point of this year, work had begun on more than half of the ship’s blocks and as of now, work has begun on all but one block. In 2023 we’re planning to ramp up the consolidation of our 38 total blocks, setting ourselves up for an exciting 2023 as we strive towards ship consolidation.
Inside 2 Pemberton, our large team of engineers, naval architects, and designers are hard at work on both of the aforementioned programs, as well as continuing with design and planning for the Polar Icebreaker and sixteen Multi-Purpose Vessels that we are constructing for the CCG.
Speaking of the CCG and our engineering team, Seaspan was pleased to be awarded a multi-year agreement to provide engineering support services for the CCG. We began work under this contract in late 2022.
Our team at Vancouver Drydock turns around, on average, almost one new project per week so it will be impossible to encapsulate all the interesting going-ons at the Drydock in one paragraph.
Having said that, we’ll try our best.
It was definitely the return of cruise season in Vancouver, and our Vancouver Drydock was happy to have the opportunity to once again work on these large vessels, which would often draw an interested crowd at the pier in North Vancouver’s Shipyards District.
In May, we hosted Hurtigruten Expedition’s MS Roald Amundsen for maintenance work, including minor steel modifications and a new coat of paint for the underwater hull. Then, over the summer months, three separate cruise ships stopped by in quick succession with two of the cruise ships being worked on simultaneously, a first for Seaspan Vancouver Drydock! The first was the luxury Seven Seas Mariner in July, followed by the National Geographic Resolution and the Regatta in August. Aside from the cruise ships, we had a number of other vessels make the trip to North Vancouver to visit our skilled repair team, some large & striking and some small & pedestrian, but all play an integral role in the marine industry.
In the spring and then again in December, we welcomed multiple barges from long-time customer Alaska Marine Lines for regular maintenance, including re-paving of their football-field sized decks. Over the summer, we welcomed the, the Happy Dover, a massive yellow heavy load carrier from Amsterdam, with an order to remove marine growth, paint the underwater hull and hull sides, inspect the ballast tanks and replace the seals on the propeller blades and stern tube.
In November, BC Ferries’ Queen of Coquitlam left its regular route to stop in North Vancouver in order for us to renew its boiler and completed mechanical upgrades, in addition to prep and paint work to make the vessel look better than ever.
In Victoria, the shipyards team has been busy all year long with a mix of work across our long-term government programs as well as a return to our commercial repair and maintenance work after a brief hiatus.
Arriving in the Fall, Le Commandant Charcot made a quick stop at Victoria Shipyards to undergo a wet berth maintenance period before continuing its journey from Alaska down to the warmer waters of Chile. Stay tuned in 2023 for more cruise ships who will be stopping by the Island.
Following its departure, we welcomed the TOTE North Star, sister ship of the Midnight Sun which departed in February, to begin its two-month stay as the crew in Victoria prepare the vessel to run on LNG dual-fuel technology.
On the Navy side, work will continue into the new year on HMCS Regina with a completion date of its Docking Work Period set for the end of April 2023. The vessel went into drydock at Victoria Shipyards in early June of this year through to the end of October. HMCS Regina is one of the five West Coast Frigates as part of a long-term, to end of vessel life, contract for repair and refit work, and as this fleet ages we are seeing growth in the amount of work that needs to be done on these vessels, particularly steel work. Work has commenced with a soft start on HMCS Calgary, with the vessel arriving at Victoria Shipyards on in early January for a 14-month stay.
Regarding the work this year on the Navy’s submarines under Team Victoria-Class, HMCS Victoria docked in Victoria in April 2022 where the vessel underwent pre-refit condition assessments to clarify the scope of work necessary to return the submarine to service. The extended docking work period for this vessel will begin in early 2023 with the focus on removals, surveys, the production of repair specifications and steel repair.
A significant amount of work was completed on HMCS Chicoutimi in a Transition Docking Work Period in 2022, including repairs in tanks and structures as well as needed general repairs, testing, and system re-commissioning. HMCS Chicoutimi will return to its berth at the Fleet Maintenance Facility in January 2023, as make plans continue for further maintenance on the vessel. HMCS Corner Brook completed trim and incline and camber dive, both significant accomplishments as it nears completion of a major extended docking work period. Notably, HMCS Corner Brook also returned to her berth alongside at the Fleet Maintenance Facility in late 2022. Propulsion Trials and Sea Acceptance Trials are scheduled for early 2023 with a plan for the submarine to return to service with the Royal Canadian Navy by the summer of 2023.