BC Shipyards Interested in $2.5B in Coast Guard Vessel Financing

Point Hope Maritime specializes in ship repair and maintenance, but said Thursday it plans to “explore this opportunity in more detail.”

An announcement of $2.5 billion in federal funds to build dozens of small boats for the Canadian Coast Guard drew the attention of Victoria’s Point Hope Maritime and other BC shipyards.

Federal funds will pay for the construction of up to 61 small boats.

Point Hope specializes in ship repair and maintenance, but general manager Richard Regosa said Thursday that he plans to “explore this opportunity in more detail.”

“There may be elements of these new builds that we could combine with our activities in an innovative and collaborative delivery model,” he said.

The announcement was also welcomed by Chuck Ko, president of Allied Shipbuilders in North Vancouver, who said the company is “absolutely” interested in building coast guard vessels.

He would be prepared to look at anything between 300 tons and just under 1,000 tons, he said. Ko also hopes to learn more about the plan.

As for the size of the ships Allied would be interested in, Ko pointed to the 54.7-meter CCGS Tanu, a fishing patrol vessel, and the 39.7-meter CCGS Vector.

Allied also expects the contracts to include large production lifeboats, he said.

Dave Hargreaves, senior vice president of strategy, business development and communications at Seaspan Shipyards, one of the country’s few large shipbuilders, said the company is excited about the revitalization of the Coast Guard fleet.

The opportunity to build small boats will further strengthen the “vast Canadian supply chain that has already experienced tremendous growth as a direct result of the [National Shipbuilding Strategy] large shipbuilding programs, in which Seaspan is a partner,” it said in a statement.

“It takes the combined efforts of a nationwide shipbuilding industry to rebuild a fleet and every shipyard in Canada will be on board.”

A government statement says the small craft will “play an important role in the safety of boaters in Canadian waters and support essential Canadian Coast Guard services and operations, such as scientific research, aids to navigation, response environment and search and rescue.

The plan requires:

• Six mid-coast multi-mission vessels

• An offshore fisheries research vessel

• Sixteen specialized vessels consisting of two special navigation aid vessels, four special shallow draft buoy tenders, four inshore scientific vessels, four special control vessels, and two lake-class vessels.

• Four vehicles with air cushions

• Thirty-four Cape class search and rescue lifeboats

Building the vessels will provide opportunities for smaller Canadian shipyards and suppliers in Canada and will create high-paying jobs in the maritime sector, according to the statement.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy saw contracts for non-combat vessels such as the Sir John Franklin awarded to Seaspan in North Vancouver and combat ship construction for Irving Shipbuilding in Nova Scotia. In April, Chantier Davie, from Quebec, was named the third partner in the national program.

So far, 16 small vessels have been built for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, including 14 search and rescue lifeboats and two channel survey and survey vessels.

The federal announcement follows BC’s recent decision to allocate up to $25 million over three years to improve shipyards in the areas of shipbuilding, refit, repair and maintenance.

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