Ottawa announces improvements at graving dock

The two massive caissons, or water-tight doors, at the Esquimalt Graving Dock will be refurbished by the end of next year.

Costs for the project are not yet known because the contract for the work has not been announced. However, work will start in the coming months.

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Carla Qualtrough, federal minister of the Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility Department, said Friday that in the past four years $175 million has been spent to improve the graving dock and on remediation. She toured the federally owned property, which is rented out for shipbuilding and repair on publicly and privately owned vessels. The 357.5-metre-long graving dock is like a giant bathtub. Ships are floated in and then the water is drained out to give workers access.

HMCS Vancouver, a Canadian frigate, was in the Graving Dock on Friday. The Sir John Franklin offshore fisheries scientific vessel was tied up at the dock. Two New Zealand ANZAC-class frigates, here for upgrades, were also moored there.

Qualtrough announced a $3.4-million contract with B.C. Hydro to install distribution lines to supply the dock with power.

The upgraded caissons will last another three decades, she said. The project will include corrosion protection and work on mechanical and electrical systems. “These two projects will soon be underway and will contribute to ensuring continuity in the dock’s day-to-day operations,” she said. The facility supports about 1,350 jobs.

A new main electrical substation has been completed and is fitted with equipment expected to last at least 30 years.

As part of a $15.8-million contract, Scansa Construction Ltd. cleaned up service tunnels and replaced old lead-based electrical cables with environmentally friendly cables, Qualtrough said.

“In addition, work is underway to reconstruct the south jetty of the dock,” she said. The jetty should be finished by year’s end.

Last year, a $45.8-million contract was awarded to SPAL General Constructors and Fraser River Pile and Dredge for the jetty job.

This contract is one of four, totalling about $80 million, which was awarded to an Indigenous joint venture at the dock in recent years, said Qualtrough.

As well, an $18.8-million contract by CYMI Canada Inc. has been awarded to build another substation and complete electrical safety upgrades. Construction began in January and should be completed by spring 2020.

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