October 16, 2013
Seaspan gets second federal contract
Seaspan Marine Corporation has been awarded another multi-billion dollar shipbuilding contract by the federal government, which will require at least 1,000 more skilled workers for the construction of 10 new non-combat ships for the Canadian Coast Guard.
“Obviously, this is very good news,” said Jan Noster, president of the Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers union. “We are a little anxious and hope they start building the first ships soon.”
The federal government announced on Oct. 7 that Vancouver Shipyards will be building up to 10 vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard at an estimated cost of $3.3 billion.
This investment is for up to five Medium Endurance Multi-Tasked Vessels and up to five Offshore Patrol Vessels.
The investment is in addition to the $8-billion contract that was awarded to Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards in October 2011 for the construction of seven non-combat ships, under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS).
The first contract is the largest federal government procurement awarded in B.C. history.
It involves the construction of Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels, an Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel, and Canada’s first Polar Icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard.
The new ships increase Seaspan’s Non-Combat build package to 17 ships from the seven originally announced.
“They have redone the whole infrastructure in the shipyard with a $200 million investment to modernize and bid on international work,” said CMAW Local 506 marine and shipbuilding business agent Percy Darbyson.
“Currently, we have about 300 people on the site. They are building barges and tugboats, which are part of Seaspan’s regular business.”
The NSPS is now in its fourth phase, with the designs of the initial set of ships being finalized and the shipyards undertaking the infrastructure upgrades required to enable them to build Canada’s ships efficiently.
“We are one year into our Shipyard Modernization Project, and with approximately one year remaining, the transformation of Vancouver Shipyards has been profound,” said Brian Carter.
“In addition to the progress on facilities, we are making a huge investment in people, processes and tools. We continue to recruit the best and brightest engineers, project managers and procurement personnel to join the Seaspan team and look forward next year to increasing the number of unionized tradesmen and women once we commence construction of our first ship under the NSPS project.”
Darbyson said work for the NSPS is scheduled to start in October 2014. He anticipates that CMAW’s workforce on the site will increase from about 300 to more than 1,000 workers between October 2014 and October 2016.
CMAW members do all ship construction except for electrical and pipefitting, which involves 20 trades.
The two government contracts will have will CMAW members building ships in three shifts, 24 hours per day until the year 2020.