A Victoria shipyard is one of three in Canada set to share $7-billion in navy maintenance and repair contracts to maintain the country’s 12 Halifax-class frigates, the core of the Royal Canadian Navy fleet.
The federal government announced the advance contract award notices Thursday for Seaspan Victoria Shipyards in Victoria, as well as Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding Inc., and Davie Shipbuilding in Levis, Que.
“We are extremely proud and confident that we can deliver,” said Tim Page, Seaspan’s vice-president of government relations. “We have been doing work on the frigates since they were built in the ‘90s. Thursday’s announcement was confirmation of the confidence and trust the federal government has in Seaspan to provide on budget and in a timely manner.”
The shipyard is waiting to celebrate though as the deal provides a 15-day waiting period to allow other interested suppliers to bid on the contract if they feel they can meet the requirements laid out in the contract notice.
“The government has done their homework and have identified what they think are the only suppliers that can meet their requirements, but to make sure it is fair, they allow a 15-day cure period for people to come forward,” Page said.
Seaspan operates within the federally-owned Esquimalt Graving Dock, the largest solid bottom commercial dry dock on the west coast. They employ 1,100 people, 400 of which are expected to be needed for the new contract work.
“That for us is so important – the stability and dependability of the work, should the contract go ahead,” said Page, of the work that would span a couple decades.
The 12 Canadian-built Halifax-class frigates are considered the backbone of the Royal Canadian Navy. The ships were originally designed for anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, according to Royal Canadian Navy.
In 2016, the last of the frigates completed the Halifax-class modernization project, which involved the installation of state-of-the-art radars, defences, and armaments combining anti-submarine, anti-surface, and anti-air systems to deal with threats below, on and above the sea surface.
The new maintenance and repair contracts are to maintain the 12 frigates until the end of their operational life, estimated at another 20 years.
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