LEVIS, Que. - Davie Canada Shipyard's new owners are preparing to relaunch the Quebec City area's idled shipbuilding operations, hiring the first 100 employees next month to build three vessels for maiden customer Cecon.
The company said Tuesday it has been working hard since the Nov. 15 acquisition to restart operations as "quickly as possible," leading to more than 500 employees being hired by July.
The additional workers will be added once a construction schedule is finalized for the second of three vessels for subsea oil and gas contractor Cecon, work that was put on hold when Davie obtained creditor protection in 2010.
It said a $120-million contract by the province to build two ferries should create more jobs.
Davie Yards has been idle for more than three years as ownership of the facility changed hands several times amid failed efforts to win a large federal shipbuilding contract.
The Quebec government approved Davie's sale late last year to British-Monaco company Zafiro Marine.
Ontario's Upper Lakes acquired the shipbuilding company to bid on federal contracts with partners SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) and the South Korean firm Dae Woo.
But Upper Lakes said its ownership became too risky after Irving Shipbuilding and Vancouver Shipyards were selected over Davie to build Canada's next generation of warships and coast guard vessels.
The sale required the approval of the Quebec government because the province had provided $35 million in unsecured credit to Davie.
Chief executive Alan Bowen said efforts to restart operations are proceeding according to plan despite the complexities involved.
"We're committed to ensuring that the speedy resumption of operations is carried out in a professional and carefully planned way that will support Davie Canada Shipyard’s long-term growth," he said in a release.
Bowen said the new owners want to promote the shipyard around the world and position it in naval construction, offshore natural gas and oil exploration and production, and industrial manufacturing.
One of its first steps has been to honour its commitment to pay $2,000 to each of Davie's 900 former employees.
It is also assembling an experienced management team with the hiring of a vice-president operations and engineering director, who will assume their duties shortly.
Cecon has obtained US$280 million in financing, enabling it to assign Davie Canada the remaining construction work on its three ships currently in the shipyard.
Davie said Cecon is committed to paying the first instalment in early February and that the company has finalized all agreements with Canada Economic Development to build the three vessels.
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