Victoria Shipyard to continue busy refit schedule into 2020


A steady stream of large contracts is expected to keep Victoria Shipyards busy into 2020, says its general manager.

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Joe O’Rourke said the surge in jobs will likely increase employment by about 25 per cent, with numbers running at between 600 and 1,000 people on the job through to 2020.

The next large ship scheduled to come into the Esquimalt Graving Dock is the Star Princess on Dec. 2. It is slated to stay until Dec. 12. The contract is a “big cruise ship job with a variety of propulsion and hull work,” O’Rourke said.

Two new scrubber systems are being installed on the ship. A scrubber helps clean marine exhaust emissions.

The Star Princess will provide work for 300 to 400 employees, all working 12 hours shifts during its time here.

As well, the cruise company brings in its own staff, who stay on the ship and do interior improvements.

Two more cruise ships are scheduled to arrive in 2018, with four more planned up to 2021, O’Rourke said. Victoria Shipyards management has worked for years to attract the lucrative cruise-ship business.

The company is part of North Vancouver-based Seaspan, which runs Vancouver Shipyards and Vancouver Drydock.

Values of individual cruise ship contracts are not revealed, but individual contracts can be in the $4 million to $5 million range, according to industry officials.

A full crew of shipyard workers is busy on the HMCS Corner Brook submarine, one of four in Canada’s navy, O’Rourke said. It is scheduled to remain in what the navy calls an extended docking work period until 2018.

On Dec. 12, the first offshore fisheries science vessel built at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyard is scheduled to be towed to Victoria’s Ogden Point, where it will remain into April, O’Rourke said.

Because of space limitations at the graving dock, tests of its new systems and sea trials will be done out of Ogden Point, he said.

The science vessel is the first non-combat ship built at Vancouver Shipyards to be completed under a federal ship-building program to revitalize the navy and coast guard and fisheries fleets and to develop expertise at Canadian yards.

More federal ships will be arriving in Victoria for final tests and trials and commissioning as they are completed in Vancouver.

On Dec. 15, the first of two U.S.-based cargo carriers is in for 60 days in a two-stage conversion to dual fuel with liquefied natural gas.

O’Rourke said that 2017 has been a strong year. “We hired a lot of apprentices this year. We’ll be hiring more next year.”

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