Partnership between Heddle Shipyards and Seaspan Shipyards Could Benefit Thunder Bay

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Heddle Shipyard in Thunder Bay Drydock
Heddle Shipyard in Thunder Bay Drydock

THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – A partnership between Heddle Shipyards and Seaspan Shipyards will bring business to the company’s facility in Thunder Bay. An announcement today means that if the partners under their teaming agreement succeed, components of the Polar Icebreaker will be manufactured at three of Heddle’s Ontario shipyards, Hamilton, St. Catherines, and Thunder Bay and bring long-term jobs to the city and to the province.

“Heddle has a long and proud history of operating shipyards in Canada. Our facilities have been building ships for Canada stretching back to the production of vessels for the Royal Navy in WWI. This partnership with Seaspan Shipyards provides us with a critical opportunity to revitalize the shipbuilding industry in Ontario and Newfoundland by becoming a meaningful partner in the National Shipbuilding Strategy. This in turn will bring long-term jobs and predictability to our highly-skilled workforce at all of our shipyards and to our well-established supply chain,” says Shaun Padulo, President, Heddle Shipyards.

Seaspan Shipyards (Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd.) and Heddle Shipyards (Heddle Marine Service Inc.), the largest operator of shipyards on the Great Lakes, today announced they have entered into an exclusive teaming agreement for the Canadian Coast Guard’s future Polar Icebreaker, bringing Heddle and Ontario shipyards into the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

Under the terms of their agreement, if Seaspan Shipyards is awarded the Polar Icebreaker, Heddle will fabricate ship modules at its three Ontario shipyards.

In a media release, the company says, “In a climate where the need to leverage federal procurement dollars to support Canadian companies and employees has never been greater, construction of the Polar Icebreaker will support thousands of Canadian jobs over the multi-year life of the program. The strategic relationship will also provide NSS program work for Heddle’s facility in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland.”

Seaspan was selected in 2011 as Canada’s NSS strategic partner to build all large non-combat vessels following a comprehensive, open and transparent competitive process. With $185 million in capital infrastructure investments made by the company since the contract award, Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyard was purpose-built for the construction of the Polar Icebreaker. It is the only shipyard in Canada with the workforce, facilities and capacity in place today to deliver the complex vessel by the Coast Guard’s critical 2029 deadline.

Canada’s existing Polar Icebreaker, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, the only ship in the Canadian fleet capable of year-round operations in the Arctic, is in its sixth decade of service. According to the Request for Information issued by Public Services and Procurement Canada in February, a replacement is needed by 2029 in order to continue to support Canada’s economy and year-round marine trade, to resupply Canada’s Arctic communities and industries, and to conduct search and rescue and environmental response operations in the Far North.

Consistent with the social and economic objectives of the NSS, Seaspan Shipyards has become an economic engine for the domestic marine industry, having contributed more than $1.5 billion to Canada’s GDP* to date as a result of its NSS work. With its third Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel about to be delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard, and construction of the Joint Support Ship for the Royal Canadian Navy well under way, Seaspan Shipyards is rebuilding a marine industrial sector on Canada’s West Coast and generating economic impact across Canada through job creation and contracts with hundreds of small and medium businesses.

“The NSS is employing thousands of Canadians and rebuilding the marine industry across the country; Heddle has broad domestic skills and facilities that so far have been untapped to support the strategy. We are excited to partner with Heddle to extend the economic and social benefits of the NSS, and to leverage their skills and resources to deliver a flagship Polar Icebreaker worthy of the Canadian Coast Guard and its critical missions,” states Mark Lamarre, Chief Executive Officer, Seaspan Shipyards.

This issue came forward during the last federal election when Conservative candidate Frank Pullia raised the issue of manufacturing jobs in Thunder Bay.

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