Private naval dockyards fleet-footed

* Moderator's note: Originally published through the Chronicle Herald.

"Your Oct. 22 article, “Rumoured top pick for Defence Minister could be bad news for Halifax,” references Irving Shipbuilding and we appreciate this opportunity to respond to certain comments made by maritime security analyst Ken Hansen.

Irving Shipbuilding is proud to have built 80 per cent of the current combatant fleet for Canada and we are undertaking a generational opportunity with the building of the next generation of ships for those who serve. We thank Mr. Hansen for his positive comments made on Sept. 1 as we celebrated the start of production.

Currently, we are completing the mid-life refit of the Halifax Class Frigates, the majority of which were built by Irving Shipbuilding. This work has sustained hundreds of jobs at the shipyard and we enjoy a good partnership with the Navy’s Halifax Dockyard next door to our facility in the completion of this work.

The complex maintenance and modernization work performed on the current fleet of frigates and other Navy vessels has been a mainstay of the Halifax Shipyard for generations.

Mr. Hansen incorrectly infers that if a private sector shipyard such as Irving Shipbuilding were tasked to perform routine and minor maintenance that fleet schedules would suffer and ship availability would decline.

This is not correct and Mr. Hansen’s comments ignore the fact that many other navies such as the Royal Navy in the U.K. and the United States navy, which require high reliability and availability for their ships, use private sector shipyards to perform routine and minor maintenance in addition to complex maintenance and modernization. They use appropriate, performance-based contracts established in advance of needed maintenance to be ready for immediate execution of repairs — there is no delay in getting ships repaired and back in service. This is a well-established model used by navies around the world.

Over the past 18 months, we have invested significantly in the best technology and best practices for the team of shipyard workers whose skill and experience earned us the contract to build the next generation of ships for Canada. Today, we proudly operate North America’s largest undercover facility and most modern yard and we are focusing on efficiently delivering quality and value to Canada."

Kevin McCoy, president, Irving Shipbuilding

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