By Amy Woolvett
THE COAST GUARD
Many in Shelburne County had good reasons to celebrate when Shelburne Ship Repair held their official re-opening ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
After the province invested $8.8 million and owner Irving Shipbuilding invested $16.6 million to do the necessary repairs to the cradle and marine railway as well as the wharf; the company is able to take on repair orders once again.
The new cradle will be able to take in two ships at a time and is the only marine railway this size in North America.
“We are going to be competitive in the long term,” said Jim Irving, CEO of Irving Shipbuilding. “There is a solid market for repair work and we have the skilled workers to do those jobs, but we needed a facility that could accommodate larger vessels.”
The upgrade was completed between April 2010 and Aug 2011 and included removing the old cradle and marine railway and designing and building new ones to accommodate two larger vessels simultaneously. It also included dredging and reconstructing the wharf, general paving and repairs, fencing and shop and office repairs.
“Shipbuilding is in our blood in Nova Scotia,” said Premier Darrell Dexter who came to Shelburne to speak at the event. “The province believes in the people of Shelburne and the future of shipbuilding in Nova Scotia. This project is Nova Scotia’s JobsHere plan in action.”
Many of the speakers at the event referred to Irving’s bid to produce ships for the Canadian government as part of their procurement strategy.
“It is a pride for us,” said Dexter.
“And we haven’t seen this level of pride so convincingly as we have over the past few months…this is a great day for Shelburne and a great day for Nova Scotia.”
Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau said that the shipyard reopening will bring a boost to the local economy.
“A viable shipyard is significant to the economy of Shelburne and its surrounding communities,” said Belliveau. “This means good jobs in a vibrant sector for years to come.”
Most of the upgrades to the facility were completed by Shelburne Ship Repair employees. There are currently 38 employees in the yard with repair work underway and bids for more work submitted.
“We want to thank our employees and their families,” said Steve Durrell, president of Irving Shipbuilding. “They remained loyal to Shelburne Ship Repair, completing the two-year modernization project and even traveling to work on some of our other repair and build projects.”
There were planned celebrations for much of the day and into the night following the announcement.
“It’s all about the people,” finished Irving to the crowd that had gathered at the official opening. “You have to care and to have passion and I can see that here…Halifax is great but this is all about rural Nova Scotia.”