Point Hope shipyard seeks OK to build $50M graving dock

Point Hope Maritime applied this week for federal approvals to build a $50-million graving dock that would allow the locally owned business to service larger vessels and more than double its workforce.

The Harbour Road operation is asking the City of Victoria what it needs for the project to proceed, Ian Maxwell, president of the Ralmax Group of Companies, said Wednesday. Point Hope is part of Ralmax.

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Maxwell has wanted to develop a graving dock at Point Hope for many years.

He has lined up financing, the ship-repair yard is operating at capacity and requests come in frequently to accept larger vessels, he said.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” said Maxwell, who bought the Point Hope assets in 2003 and subsequently purchased the land. Ships have been repaired at this 345 Harbour Rd. site for about 140 years.

“This is the community’s shipyard. Somebody needs to build it out. This will generate jobs,” Maxwell said. “The reality is, if we build a good graving dock and maintain it properly, it is there for as long as ships float. As long as they need to come out of the water, it’ll be there and people will get employment from it.”

Ninety employees and another 30 to 40 contractors usually work at Point Hope, although last month the workforce was up to 120 employees and about 70 contractors.

Point Hope’s new general manager, Riccardo Regosa, said that a 173-metre-long graving dock could push the total number of shipyard employees and contractors on site to about 400.

Customers include naval, coast guard and B.C. Ferries vessels. Fishing boats and passenger vessels such as MV Uchuck III and the V2V Empress are among others that pull in. The yard typically handles vessels of up to about 180 feet, but the graving dock would permit the company to take vessels up to 560 feet. It could also be divided so two vessels could be worked on at once.

Regosa said planning for growth means being able to service larger vessels. Point Hope is asked almost daily if it can take bigger vessels, he said.

The company is getting more requests from the U.S., since the exchange rate makes the price tag attractive to American customers.

Point Hope now focuses on repairs and service, but Regosa, who was most recently managing director of GSP Shipyard in Romania, is not ruling out the possibility of building new ships.

The company expanded its spur lines last year and has been running at capacity since last summer, Regosa said.

Point Hope has applied to add 7,700 square metres to its existing federal water-lot lease.

The application will be vetted by federal departments, which will look at potential impacts on fisheries and navigable waters.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

 

VIEW THE SHIPYARD

The public can visit the Point Hope shipyard on Sunday as part of the Vic West Street Fest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Victoria Harbour Ferry and Water Taxi is providing free trips between the floats in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel and Dockside Green.

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