Ship maintenance

Quebec’s Davie shipyard splits billion-dollar ship maintenance contracts


The Davie shipyard in Quebec is in the process of securing a share of the multi-billion dollar federal contracts for the maintenance of 12 Canadian navy ships.

Public Services and Procurement Canada announced in a statement Thursday that it intends to sign contracts worth $ 7 billion with Davie, in Levis, Que., Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax and Seaspan Victoria Shipyards in Victoria.

“It’s a great day for us,” said Frédérik Boisvert, vice-president of public affairs at Davie.

“It gives us stability for years to come.”

The government did not provide a breakdown of the value of each contract. However, a source told Radio-Canada that the contract would be the largest in Davie’s history.

When asked if he was concerned that the division of labor between the three shipyards could be divisive, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the opposite was true.

“We recognize that Davie has done a great job with the Asterix,” he said, referring to a Navy supply vessel that the shipyard converted and unveiled with great fanfare last year.

“We will continue to work with all places in Canada that can help create good jobs, good products and good ships for Canadians.

The MV Asterix, the Navy’s temporary supply vessel, at the Chantier-Davie shipyard in Lévis, Que., In early July 2017.

Contracts are not a done deal – other interested suppliers have 15 calendar days to signal their interest in bidding for them.

Irving and Davie share the work of the Atlantic Fleet

The 12 Halifax-class frigates require a wide range of engineering and mooring, equipment installations and remedial maintenance. They were commissioned in the mid-90s and the average ship is 25 years old.

They are being refitted as the government awaits delivery of Canada’s next generation of warships.

Irving and Davie are expected to take care of the work on the seven ships in the Atlantic Fleet. The distribution of work between the two sites is not clear.

Seaspan will work on the five assigned to the Pacific Command.

Sharing fear will lead to job losses

Ship maintenance work is currently being performed at the Irving yard in Halifax.

Last month, Irving employees staged a march in Halifax to protest the Liberal government’s intention to split contracts with Davie, saying it would result in job losses at Irving.

Workers at the Irving Shipyard held a march in October to signal their dissatisfaction with plans to share naval vessel maintenance work with Davie. (Robert Short / CBC)

Ken Hansen, an independent defense analyst and former naval commander, told The Canadian Press that division of labor through non-competitive contracts between three shipyards is a matter of policy.

Hansen said international best practice is to perform repair and maintenance work in the ships’ home port.

“If the ships have to travel a distance and do their work elsewhere, it is both inefficient and uneconomical,” he said.

“Any work that is assigned to Davie is done for the good of politics.”

On Thursday, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said it was not fair for Ottawa to decide to divide the labor without going through regular supply channels.

“I think this should continue to follow the process they’ve always followed,” he said, noting that Irving has continued to demonstrate that he does a great job and can compete at the national level to win awards. contracts.

Boisvert said Irving’s campaign to exclude Davie from contracts is “extremely boring.”

“Seriously, they’re full of contracts. They’ve got over $ 65 billion, billions of contracts,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t they share some of these specific contracts with us? Why are they campaigning against us? We sincerely don’t understand that, and to be honest, it’s deeply offensive.”

A marriage proposal with a delayed honeymoon

Work on the frigates is not expected to start until 2021.

Réjean Guay, spokesperson for the union representing Davie workers, welcomed the news but said it would not help laid-off workers who are trying to make ends meet now.

“It’s a nice proposal, but the honeymoon doesn’t start until 2021,” he said.

Hundreds of workers have been made redundant from Davie in recent months, which the yard blamed on a lack of federal contracts.

Boisvert acknowledged that the three-year wait presented Davie with a “challenge” in terms of rehiring the laid-off workers and retaining the others.

Davie excluded from the strategy

Speaking in Quebec shortly before a scheduled visit to the shipyard today, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the Liberals had overlooked Davie.

He pointed out that the shipyard was awaiting an order for another vessel, the Obelix, after delivering the Asterix on time last year, but the Liberal government closed the door to that possibility.

“It’s very clear, in terms of supporting Davie, it was the Conservative Party that was there for Davie Shipyards,” Scheer said.

On the contrary, said Liberal Cabinet Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, who represents the Quebec City region, the announcement is proof of the renewed relationship between Davie and the federal government, a relationship that had been “neglected for years”. .

Despite Scheer’s claim that the Conservatives were there for Davie, it was the Harper government that excluded the shipyard from its 2011 national shipbuilding strategy, a long-term, multibillion-dollar pledge to renew Canada’s Federal Fleet.

As part of this strategy, Irving and Seaspan were chosen as the two main shipyards that would win contracts.

Davie was then coming out of bankruptcy.

However, since at least the fall of 2017, the Liberals have said Davie and other Canadian shipyards will also have the option of winning contracts.

While Ottawa has said nothing about reopening the strategy, the government has questioned whether it should “refresh” it, according to a memo written in January and obtained by CBC News.

In August, Davie won a $ 610 million contract to convert icebreakers for the Coast Guard. The first of those icebreakers will be operational on December 1, Boisvert said.

With files from Glenn Wanamaker, Jean Laroche, and Pascal Poinlane and Louis Blouin from Radio-Canada


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