Oceanex adding $108-M vessel to fleet

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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A rendering of the $108-million Oceanex Connaigra, expected to join the St. John’s shipping company’s fleet next fall. — Submitted photograph

St. John’s-based shipping giant Oceanex announced Thursday it is adding a new $108-million container ship to its fleet.

Company representatives were in Germany last week for the cutting of first steel for what will be the largest flag container/roll-on roll-off ship in Canada, the Oceanex Connaigra, due to join the company’s MV Cabot, Oceanex Sanderling and Oceanex Avalon next fall.

“We want to grow our business and be ready for the future,” Sid Hynes, executive chairman of Oceanex, told The Telegram on Thursday afternoon.  “A vessel’s not something you buy every day. It’s a long-term investment. The life of this is probably 35, 40 years, so it’s planning to facilitate the growth we see over the long haul, not just next year or the following year.”

Hynes joked that if the company was just focused on the short-term, turmoil in the world economy would have it rethinking the new vessel.

“If we got serious about the world economy, we probably wouldn’t buy a ship at all,” he said, laughing. “So we’re hoping we’ll outlive that, eventually, and it’ll be all right before we’re finished with her. At the moment, it’s pretty good here and things are going well, so we’re pretty excited.”

The company is still determining whether the Connaigra will replace one of its current ships or if it will open up service to another area. The company provides transportation services between Mexico, the United States and mainland Canada to St. John’s, as well as shipment over land across Newfoundland. Asked where the company might expand to, Hynes stayed mum.

“We live in a very competitive world,” he said.

The ship’s price tag dwarfs the $10 million to $15 million each that Oceanex’s current vessels cost a few decades ago, said Hynes. The ship, being built by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft of Germany, will be 210 metres long with a carrying capacity of 19,500 metric tonnes. The ship will also feature a dry-scrubber exhaust gas-cleaning system to exceed air-emission regulations, earning a “clean” designation by DNV, a Norway-based classification and evaluation organization.

The ship is named after the Connaigre Peninsula, suggested during a company-wide contest to name the new vessel.

“Connaigre gets its name from the French, back in I think 1750, thereabouts,” said Hynes.

“Back in those days, the ice

used to come out of the Gulf and flow all the way down the south coast and it would come down the Labrador Sea and flow out west. And Connaigre Harbour, or Great Harbour, as it was called by the French, was one of the few harbours that was safe and ice-free year-round.” Last but not least, said Hynes, is the fact his hometown of Harbour Breton is on the Connaigre Peninsula.

Blocks will be laid in Flensburg’s docks for assembly of the ship Feb. 12. The Connaigre is expected to be launched May 31, with sea trials scheduled for September before it’s delivered to Newfoundland Oct. 1.

“It’s been a lot of fun to participate with the whole team. It’s a custom-designed ship for our service, our business. To go through all that and hopefully see it work and figure out how we’re going to pay for it after we get it, I suppose,” he said.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Germany, Canada, Newfoundland Mexico United States Great Harbour Harbour Breton Flensburg

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  • Kevin Griffin
    November 02, 2012 - 10:09

    Gentlemen, please remove your heads from the sand. This is economics not politics. No one is building cargo ships in Canada any more. The large lakes companies such as Canada Steamship Lines and Algoma Central (now incorporating Upper Lakes) have ordered in China and there is a raft of ships now coming from there - a good dozen to start with. That did not happen until Ottawa removed the 25% import duty on ships - instead nobody was building ships in Canada because it was too expensive and the fleet was aging. BC has built ferries at the same shipyard in Germany that is now building for Oceanex, and Desgagnés has ordered ships from Europe too. Canadian shipyards are no longer competitive for commercial ships. And in these straightened times Ottawa cannot afford to award the kind of 40% shipbuilding subsidies it did fifty years ago.

  • Chris
    October 19, 2012 - 13:33

    #1 - To Barrelman - It is obvious that Captain Sid Hynes has a lot more responsibility and access to the purse strings, and less people looking over his shoulder, then he had at Marine Atlantic. Make no wonder he left, because he probably couldn't fix it with his hands tied behind his back! #2 - To Dunderdale - See how it's done. No fooling around, JUST DO IT! I say we elect Sid Hynes as Premier, and then you may see Ferries built here, but i am just kidding. The current government ruined that for all future governments, mark my words!

    • mytwocents
      October 20, 2012 - 08:14

      How nice. Sid Hynes has, with this contract, contributed to the job security of 700 employess at the ship building plant in Germany!!! Wow, not only has the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador sold us out, the private sector has as well. Really sad that we could not have benifitted from this contract. And, if someone says that it couldn't be built here they will hear me scream in Germany!

  • Barrelman
    October 19, 2012 - 10:26

    There are a number of problems here. Wasn't Sid Hynes once the "skipper' of Marine Atlantic? As such, wasn't he at the helm before the "new crew" took over, and shouldn't he have been looking down the road to Marine Atlantic's future. Neither did we ever get a satisfactory explanation why the new M.A. crew got rid of Canada's first "super-ferries -- the Caribou and Smallwood - is such a swift, quiet, dubious manner -- and buys "used" ferries from Europe while Canadian shipyards (and workers there) lie idle. But wadda ya know! European shipyards again benefit from a Canadian Newfoundland-based corporate entity!! And Skipper Sid is again in the picture! Looks like a challenging sequence of circumstances for journalistic inquiry. Nothing personal here, Captain Hynes, although there are some folks at Corner Brook still pained to see the waterfront become so quiet after Oceanex left while goods that were trucked out of that city across the island are now trucked in from St. John's ... and plans by Oceanex would indicate there's more of the same in futute.