By Amy Woolvett
THE COAST GUARD
J.D. Irving’s bid has been delivered to Ottawa and they are now in the running with two other Canadian shipbuilding companies vying for a role in the government’s strategy to invest $35-billion to build combat and non combat vessels.
It is an opportunity that has the potential to secure and sustain up to 11,500 jobs in peak employment for people across the province.
Irving believes that they have a good chance of winning the bid for the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.
“We are very confident in our bids, our facilities, our partnerships and most importantly, our workforce and their ability to build the best ships to meet the needs of the federal government well into the future,” said Jim Irving, CEO, Irving Shipbuilding.
The company took more than a year to put together their detailed proposal that in the end consisted of 16 banker boxes, eight for combat and eight for non-combat.
“It’s an exciting day for our industry and for the men and women who build ships here in Nova Scotia,” said Karl Risser, president, CAW/MWF Local 1. “We believe we have the right people, the right skills and experience and the kind of commitment to our trades and to our industry needed to build the best ships for Canada….and we’ve got it all right here at Irving Shipbuilding. We’re ready, bring it on Nova Scotia.”
The other two companies who have submitted their bid are the Washington Marine Group out of British Columbia and the joined forces of Seaway Marine based in Ontario and Davie Shipyard from Quebec.
Signs of support for Irving reading, Ships Start Here can be seen all over Shelburne County and vice president of Corporate Development, Mike Roberts visited Shelburne last week to explain Irving’s position.
“This is an unprecedented economic opportunity,” he said. “If we win the combat package it will mean 11,500 jobs.”
He added that if Irving were to not get the bid they would continue with their current projects but the future could be grim.
“We won’t see a lot of opportunity in the future,” he said.
The combat package that Irving hopes to obtain includes building eight Arctic Offshore Patrol ships to build between 2012 and 2021, up to 15 Canadian Surface Combatants from 2017 to 2035 and in-service support from 2020 to 2042.
“But this won’t just benefit the economy and build navy ships,” he said. “It’s going to create a much stronger marine industry.
About where the Irving owned Shelburne Ship Repair falls in to the plan, Roberts did not elaborate much except to say that the viable yard would be of help for the projects.
“It is too early to know what effect this will have for Shelburne,” he said. “But I know Shelburne will have tremendous ship repair opportunities.”
He encouraged people to prepare the area’s youth to acquire the right skills to achieve positions to secure jobs in areas including pipefitters, welders, sheet metal workers, electricians and metal fabrication.
“We are very fortunate that we have an owner that invested in building ships in Canada rather than abroad,” he said. He believes that the bid’s strength is that Irving’s bid is Canada’s bid.
“We will use other provinces for their resources,” he said. “The question is will they do the same for Nova Scotia…not necessarily.”
The decision on what two companies will win the bid, either to build combat or to build non-combat is to be decided in the fall.
“We understand the federal government has a significant and historic decision to make after due diligence is completed and proposals are carefully evaluated,” said Jim Irving. “Irving Shipbuilding looks forward to the continuation and completion of the NSPS process. The men and women of Irving Shipbuilding stand ready for Canada today.”