Specialized helicopter creates stir at CFB Esquimalt

Erickson Air-Crane used to move 12,000 lbs. ventilation units

An Erickson Air-Crane helicopter picks up a ventilation unit at HMCS Dockyard on Sunday.

An Erickson Air-Crane helicopter picks up a ventilation unit at HMCS Dockyard on Sunday.

What looked like an enormous praying mantis hovered in the skies over CFB Esquimalt on Sunday.

It was an unusual sight, but the Erickson Air-Crane helicopter made short work of lifting eight heating and ventilation units, each weighing between 2,300 and 5,500 kilograms, onto the roof of the fleet maintenance facility at the naval dockyard.

The chopper, which normally hauls felled logs, cost about $75,000 for the day, and brought out several on- and off-duty personnel with Defence Construction Canada, which is the contract agent on the project.

“It’s just one of the things that had to be installed before we could move in,” said John Laverdière, who is overseeing the project for Department of National Defence.

The work marked another step towards the eventual completion of a five-phase $607-million project to consolidate fleet maintenance operations under one roof.

Many of the unit’s 1,000 civilian and military personnel continue to repair and maintain the West Coast fleet of navy ships and one submarine out of small, aging buildings at the base.

“We’re kind of on the cusp of the last phase here,” Laverdière said.

While earlier construction phases were completed in 1998, 2000 and 2005, work continues on the fourth phase, during which large building shells were constructed.

The fifth and final phase will include environmental site remediation, building demolitions, the construction of additional building extensions and equipping the enormous new facility with shop equipment. The construction plans for the final project leg will require approval within the next year.

The consolidation project will result in the eventual demolition of about eight old and obsolete buildings at the base, and is expected to wrap up in 2018.

 

 

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