Key contracts are being awarded in what could become a $300-million construction project to replace the main docks where warships tie up at CFB Esquimalt.
A and B jetties are considered too old and small for today's operations.
Built in the 1940s, they're made of treated wood that has reached the end of its life, said Mike Graham, spokesman for the Department of National Defence, adding the jetties are also too short and narrow for current traffic at CFB Esquimalt.
Supporting infrastructure, such as electrical wiring, water and sewage conduits and telecommunications cables, also requires upgrading to meet modern standards.
A $4.3-million engineering design contract for A Jetty was awarded a week ago to Amec Americas Ltd. of Halifax. Design work for B Jetty is ongoing with consulting company Stantec, said Rick Gudz, Esquimalt manager of operations for Defence Construction Canada, a Crown agency responsible for infrastructure work for DND. A $1.1-million contract was awarded this year to Ruskin Construction to upgrade A Jetty to keep it operational.
Once finished, the new jetties will provide berthing space for four frigates or destroyers, two Arctic and offshore patrol ships, one resupply vessel and two submarines, Graham said.
Because the jetties are still being designed, project details are not finalized, he said.
The target is to have the designs completed in late summer or fall of 2014.
If federal funding approval is given, construction could be completed in 2017 or 2018, Gudz said.
Total construction value could be about $300 million for the two jetties, but it's too soon to be more precise, Gudz said.
"We are just finalizing what the foundations are going to look like and there are big costs with that."
Old wooden pilings will come out and be replaced with steel pilings. "The existing structures will be gone and replaced with these new state-of-the-art concrete structures, fully serviced, which also includes new cranes."
The new jetties will be approximately double the size of what's in place now, Gudz said.
Current plans call for B Jetty to be 274 metres long and oriented to the north. A Jetty will measure 270 metres long, with a 26-metre-wide deck, and will be oriented east-west, according to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website.
The project would bring to nearly $2 billion the total spending pumped into infrastructure, ship repair and building projects for the Pacific Fleet in the past 15 years. That includes Victoria Shipyards' $351-million mid-life upgrading and modernization contract for five Halifax class frigates.
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