John McCarthy: Investing in our Most Important Asset—Our People

November 4, 2022

This article originally appeared in the North Shore News.

At Seaspan Shipyards, we have a team of 2,000 people working here on the North Shore that I think you should know. Together, we are transforming how ships are designed, built, and maintained right here in North Vancouver while creating a pipeline of opportunities for the next generation of shipbuilders, engineers, and designers for decades to come. Over the next year alone, we will be adding more than 500 people to our team to help us deliver on our promise of ships built in Canada by Canadians.

I am proud to have recently taken over as CEO of Seaspan Shipyards. Having been with the company for four years and in the shipbuilding industry for over 36 years, I can honestly say, I have never encountered a more collaborative and dedicated team. In every capacity and at every stage of the process – from our designers, engineers, and administration staff to our skilled tradespeople and technicians – our people are committed to delivering to the highest standards of excellence. Our team is largely what makes Seaspan a great place to work, followed by the job security of a long runway of challenging, multi-year projects.

Many people on the North Shore might recognize Seaspan’s brand from seeing our tugs and barges move critical ships and supplies up and down B.C.’s coast but we have come a long way over the last century. From our North Vancouver base, we are building and servicing some of the world’s most modern ships under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) for the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard. In a span of 10 years, we have transformed the shipbuilding industry on the West Coast of Canada and built one of the most modern shipyards in the world.  

It does not stop at investing in our infrastructure. We are also transforming the process of how we design and build ships. For example, we design all our vessels using 3D modelling, giving access to our partners and clients like never before through virtual reality. We have also embraced technology in our Welding Centre of Excellence, with the installation of seven robotic and automated pieces of equipment to increase consistency, output, and quality.  

We are blessed with the challenge of increasing demand from our customers on both the new shipbuilding and repair fronts, and we must ensure we have the right people in place to deliver on all our commitments. Under the NSS, and out of our North Vancouver shipyard, we are building vessels that will play a vital role in ensuring Canadian sovereignty, conducting climate and ocean research, and protecting the world’s longest coastline. We are currently building two Protecteur-class Joint Support Ships for the Royal Canadian Navy, and we are making progress on the Canadian Coast Guard’s Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel. We are also in the design phase for the future crown jewel of the Canadian Coast Guard: The Polar Icebreaker, along with a fleet of 16 Ice Class Multi-Purpose vessels.

I am especially proud of the diversity on our team. If you take a walk out into the shipyards you will meet talented and highly skilled tradespeople from the North Shore, across Canada, and all over the world, and the same is true across our design and engineering teams. The competition for skilled tradespeople is fierce and an important part of the recruitment process is sharing stories about the rewarding work we are doing to transform an industry right here in North Vancouver. We are also a team that gives back to make our communities stronger. In the last 30 years, Seaspan’s workforce has donated more than $2 million to support the United Way of the Lower Mainland’s mission of building healthy, caring and inclusive communities. And as a long-serving member of B.C.’s maritime community, we have a proud history of supporting our oceans and rivers for future generations. 

We simply could not deliver on our growing portfolio of work without a world-class workforce, which is why we continue to invest in our most important asset: our people. We have a wide range of learning and skills development opportunities with the goal of attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. We also have plans to double our apprenticeship program to grow the number of Red Seal-certified workers to help meet our demand. At Seaspan, we like to say that teamwork builds ships and our skilled tradespeople are at the heart of our team.

To learn more about Seaspan’s team of talented employees and opportunities to join us, visit our website at

John McCarthy,
CEO of Seaspan Shipyards