Shipyard workers stay busy with multiple, smaller jobs

vka-shipyard-2488-1-jpgShipyard workers at Point Hope Maritime are busy on public and private sector contracts in Victoria’s Upper Harbour.

Between 65 and 80 workers will be on the job well into the new year, company spokesman Hank Bekkering said Friday. And as Point Hope continues to bid on upcoming contracts, Bekkering anticipates the yard will remain busy into the future.

Current contracts include building three pontoons for B.C. Ferries. One is complete and the others will be finished in the new year, he said.

Five-year refits and inspections, a standard practice in the maritime sector, are in progress for a Royal Canadian Navy auxiliary tug and a navy Orca-class vessel, the Renard. The 108-foot-long Orca-class ships — there are eight in B.C. — are called patrol craft training vessels. The Renard arrived at Point Hope at the start of October and will be ready for work in mid-November, Bekkering said.

The vessels are also used for patrolling the coast for suspicious activities and watching for pollution and fishing violations. They are often used for search and rescue and called on to help boaters in trouble.

The V2V Empress, a 270-passenger vessel, is also at Point Hope where workers are preparing it for the new ferry service between Victoria Harbour and downtown Vancouver. It is being stripped down and rebuilt.

Another couple of months of work is planned for V2V Empress, Bekkering said. A V2V Vacations spokesman said the ferry is expected to go into service in 2017.

The Frances Barkley, of Lady Rose Marine Services on Vancouver Island’s west coast, arrives next month for a refit that will take two to three weeks, Bekkering said.

Meanwhile, about 300 workers are on the job at Victoria Shipyards, which operates at the federally owned Esquimalt Graving Dock in Esquimalt, Most are working on Canada’s submarines, said Joe O’Rourke, vice-president and general manager at Victoria Shipyards, owned by Seaspan of North Vancouver. A New Zealand frigate is slated to pull in for a major upgrading in the spring.

A new federal scientific vessel, which is being built in North Vancouver, is also expected to arrive next year and remain for two to four months while final installation and trials are completed. This scientific vessel is part of a multi-billion-dollar package of contracts that will see Seaspan build federal non-combat ships.

Victoria Shipyard laid off 250 workers in June when it wrapped up a five-year Canadian Navy frigate upgrading and renewal project. That took place as the Graving Dock shut down for major repairs. It is expected to reopen in mid-November, O’Rourke said.

Graving dock improvements totalling $66.75 million started in 2015 and will carry on until 2017. Projects include waterlot remediation, replacing outdated underground high-voltage transmission lines and installing new electrical distribution equipment, according to Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Published on: October 22, 2016

By The Times Colonist

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