Supplier Spotlight: Rising to the Challenge with Barrier Marine Services

April 23, 2024

“We want to create a thriving business, so that people here in Canada can build a career in shipbuilding.”

It wasn’t too long ago that Barrier Marine Services was primarily focused on providing outfitting design and build services out of the UK. However, that all changed after they received their first contract with Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards in 2020, as part of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). This marked Barrier Marine’s expansion into the Canadian market.

“This is a very rare opportunity, with huge potential for local companies, suppliers and skilled trades workers,” says Tony Scott, Barrier’s Commercial Director. “Right now, 100% of our work is dedicated to the National Shipbuilding Strategy. What started as one contract has led to a significant number of additional contracts, allowing us to expand our workforce and the types of services we provide.”

A woman welding

Barrier’s scope of work for Seaspan under the NSS includes providing design, procurement and installation services for outfitting and furnishings for the Canadian Coast Guard’s new Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (OOSV), being launched later this year, and the Polar Icebreaker. The company has also secured the HVAC design, procure and build contracts for the Polar Icebreaker and for the first six Multi-Purpose Vessels that Seaspan is building. In addition, Barrier has recently expanded its business to offer manufacturing and fabrication services for these vessels.

They say their first contract under the NSS was a pivotal moment for the company, as it was the opportunity they were looking for to expand their operations to Canada and provide long term employment to support their employees and the growth of the global marine supply chain. The Barrier Group of companies was founded in England in 1975, and has provided architectural, industrial and fire protection services for a number of domestic and international clients for decades. The work under the NSS provided the necessary platform for the company to develop a Canadian division to provide specialized services and employment in the Canadian market.

As Tony Scott tours the company’s warehouse and industrial shop in North Vancouver, BC, he explains that Barrier has just launched a new marine products division out of that location to provide smaller fabricated materials that are used in shipbuilding, such as stairwells, partitions and ceilings, as well as an HVAC manufacturing division to build heating, ventilation and air conditioning products.

“We now have 20-30 years of work ahead of us with Seaspan. We’re not only creating new employment, we’re now able to make our own supplies using Canadian materials and people, instead of buying these products from offshore. We’re also partnering with other local suppliers to take on this journey together and help each other expand and succeed.” 

According to Peter Wunder, Barrier’s Project Manager, some of the most rewarding work has been the ability to provide specialized employment opportunities to help grow the local marine economy.

“The National Shipbuilding Strategy is reviving an industry that was decimated decades ago. We’re proud that Barrier is helping to bring shipbuilding knowledge and expertise back to Canada. The sky’s the limit.”