British Columbia’s ship finally comes in

It was great news last week when the federal government announced that Seaspan Marine Corp. had been awarded the $8 billion non-combat shipbuilding contract.

It was great news last week when the federal government announced that Seaspan Marine Corp. had been awarded the $8 billion non-combat shipbuilding contract.

Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards will build seven initial ships including four Canadian Coast Guard science vessels, two Royal Canadian Navy joint support ships and a Canadian Coast Guard polar icebreaker. Then there’s another 17 smaller vessels to be built that fall under the government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS).

The economic spinoffs are staggering. The contract will mean at least 4,000 jobs over the next eight years with long-term secured jobs. Employment will expand for welders, machinists, steel fabricators, electricians, pipe fitters, sheet metal workers and so many other trades.

Like a pebble in a pond, the ripple-effects will be enormous. With secure incomes, workers will feel confident enough to buy homes, cars, and big ticket items. Satellite and retail industries and services will benefit enormously. Other shipyards will profit as they step up to provide services to Seaspan and all the trade and technical schools are going to be inundated with students wanting to upgrade their skills or make a career change to position themselves for jobs.

Who can blame them?

“While we felt we were more than capable of building the combat ships (that contract went to Halifax Shipyard) we are honoured to have been chosen to provide non-combat vessels for the men and women of the Royal Canadian navy and Coast Guard,” said Jonathan Whitworth, Seaspan CEO. “We have a long and established track record of working with the Canadian Navy and Coast Guard in building ships on time and on budget.”

Whitworth is committed to restoring B.C.’s shipbuilding industry which has been languishing for decades following its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. And any government bidding process was viewed with political suspicion for years following that fateful award by the Mulroney government in 1986 when they gave the CF-18 fighter maintenance contract to Quebec’s Bombardier rather than Manitoba’s Bristol Aerospace considered back then technically superior. The move cost Mulroney major electoral points, dumped scorn all over him for his blatant political favouritism and deepened bitter beliefs in western alienation.

Fast track 25 years to a different Canada from the 1980s. PM Harper is from the west, Quebec doesn’t have the push and shove clout it once thought it did,  and the Harper government was determined not to have political ghosts coming back to haunt it once a decision was made. It went to extraordinary lengths to keep the adjudication process surgically clean. Harper, known for putting a political spin on just about everything not to mention his reputation as a control freak, was apparently hands-off on this one and by all accounts silent with everyone on the selection process.

Four senior bureaucrats navigated this bid to shore with the added expert opinions of three outside consultants. The bidders’ names were reduced to Company A, Company B or Company C.  In the end Whitworth, as elated as he must have been with his executives and workers, was equally humbled.

“We have been in it to win it and we haven’t been alone,” he said in a press release. “We couldn’t have won without the hard work and dedication of the team who worked tirelessly over the last 18 months to compile the bid or the many supporters who stepped up to assist including the Government of B.C., our three municipalities, local First Nations, shipyard unions and teaming partners from across Canada.”

Planning has started, $150 million worth of infrastructure construction will get going and actual ship construction will start in late 2012.

It couldn’t be a better time to be in shipbuilding in B.C.

Just Posted

Sardis Falcons lose heartbreaker to Abby Traditional in Fraser Valley final

The Grade 9 Falcons showed that the future of hoops at Sardis secondary may be very bright.

Chilliwack Chiefs coach Brian Maloney up for BCHL award

The league announced three nominees for the Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy as top coach.

Measles case confirmed within Fraser Health region

One case within Fraser Health is related to the outbreak in three Vancouver schools.

Harrison Festival to share the culture behind the music

Festival director Andy Hillhouse will be talking about nationalism in music, starting March 1

B.C. reservists gather for military communications training in Chilliwack

Canadian Army’s communication skills are used in battle as well as domestic emergencies

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Most Read