The federal budget contains language that could mean another major win for North Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine and a soon-to-be revitalized B.C. shipbuilding industry.
Ottawa has committed to spending an additional $5.2 billion over the next 11 years to renew the Canadian Coast Guard fleet.
Seaspan was awarded the $8 billion non-combat shipbuilding contract under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) last October, which includes seven new vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard.
Seaspan spokeswoman Kelly Francis said the company didn’t know yet how many additional vessels would be built on top of the NSPS program, but Seaspan is working with the Coast Guard to get more details about the additional build out.
“We’re not 100% sure at this point if the extra $5.2 billion in funding equals a total of $13 billion [the original $8 billion plus the new $5.2 billion] or if this is included in the original contract award,” Francis wrote in an email.
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the additional $5.2 billion in funding for the Coast Guard in his most recent budget, noting that “the procurement of new vessels and helicopters for the Canadian Coast Guard, as well as work related to repairing and refitting existing vessels, will support jobs and generate significant economic benefits.”
Seaspan is already spending up to $200 million upgrading its Vancouver and Victoria shipyards to meet the infrastructure requirements under the NSPS program. (See “Marine core” – issue 1170; March 27-April 2.)
Francis said the company is also spending an additional $50 million to help develop the local shipbuilding industry, which is expected to need hundreds of new workers and result in millions of dollars in economic benefits for the region.
Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth said in a statement that he was pleased the $5.2 billion Coast Guard renewal would create and sustain a number of new jobs in Vancouver and Victoria.
The company is expected to begin construction on the first ship, an offshore fisheries science vessel, next year. •