Kiewit encouraged by strategy

Terry Roberts
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Ottawa announces new shipbuilding program for navy, coast guard

Officials with the company that operates the shipyard in Marystown say they are "encouraged" by Ottawa's new shipbuilding strategy.

But it's too early to say whether it will translate into substantial work for the Burin Peninsula facility, said Frank Smith, director of business development for Kiewit Offshore Services.

Officials with the company that operates the shipyard in Marystown say they are "encouraged" by Ottawa's new shipbuilding strategy.

But it's too early to say whether it will translate into substantial work for the Burin Peninsula facility, said Frank Smith, director of business development for Kiewit Offshore Services.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Thursday Ottawa expects to sign agreements with two shipyards within two years to build 28 large vessels and 100 smaller ships for the navy and coast guard.

Two shipyards will be chosen "through a fair, transparent, competitive process to build the large vessels required by the coast guard and navy," MacKay stated.

It's a strategy that will cost at least $35 billion and take 30 years to complete.

Smith, who was in Ottawa for the announcement, said he was generally pleased with what he heard.

"You can't expect to get better than that in this day and age," he said.

Smith said he must now wait to see what the selection process will be, but he's confident that Marystown will be in the hunt with four other yards across Canada.

News that the selection will be transparent and competitive came as a relief to Smith, Marystown Mayor Sam Synard, and Liberal MP Judy Foote (Random-Burin-St. George's).

Media reports circulated several weeks ago suggesting the work would be done at yards in Nova Scotia, Quebec and British Columbia.

A shipyard owner in B.C. was also quoted as saying that his company had been asked to become a so-called "centre of excellence."

The reports sparked outrage in this province, where there are high hopes Marystown is well positioned to play a major role in the strategy.

During an earlier search for a yard to construct three naval joint support ships (JSS), some say Marystown was the frontrunner, but the process was halted after bids came in higher than expected.

"We were the lead in the process to build those ships," Smith said.

Observers say each JSS could cost upwards of $1 billion.

Under the new strategy, the government will establish a long-term relationship with two Canadian shipyards for the procurement of the large ships - one to build combat vessels, the other to build non-combat vessels.

The construction of smaller ships will be set aside for competitive procurement among other Canadian shipyards.

The repair, refit and maintenance of ships in the government fleet will continue to be sourced through competitive tendering.

MacKay said the strategy promotes the regional distribution of work and opportunities to shipyards across the country.

He said shipyards that are selected to build the combat and non-combat vessels will have to subcontract vast amounts of work to the broader marine industry and suppliers of this industry.

Synard is confident that in a truly open and competitive process, Marystown will do well.

But he expressed a hint of cynicism that politics and geography may creep into the processs.

"We live in a large country and we live in the far end of it and we're a small population.

"I guess we'll have to watch the process very carefully to see what the criteria is," he said.

Foote is also cautiously optimistic.

"I think we have to be really vigilant," she said.

The yard in Marystown is bustling, with more than 400 people working to construct two provincial ferries and overhaul a semi-submersible drill rig.

But considerable upgrades, including a graving dock with a price tag of up to $70 million, will be required if the yard expects to be a player in Ottawa's new strategy.

The company is financially solvent, but has been lobbying the provincial government for financial help to build the dock.

Synard agrees that the province should help.

"The province has a vested interest in having better infrastructure in Marystown," he said.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Kiewit Offshore Services

Geographic location: Marystown, Ottawa, Canada St. George's Nova Scotia Quebec British Columbia B.C.

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Recent comments

  • Stop The Racket
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I think the Federal Government will do the right thing for NL and Marystown in spite of Danny Williams and his childish ABC Goose Egg campaign in the last Federal Election. The Liberals that got in my riding the Danny ABC Wave had better be prepared for a much harder battle next time. That is unless Danny is mad at someone again as he usually is. How lucky we are. Everyone else hates us but Danny loves us. Well at least according to him that is.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    You have to differentiate between announced and contracted. Steve announced building armour vehicles in front our troops two years ago and then quitely cancelled the idea. If you keep counting on what this crowd announce, you will be waiting for a long time. Also you will see little coverage by our crack media in Canada when what is promised is unpromised.

  • Stop The Racket
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    I think the Federal Government will do the right thing for NL and Marystown in spite of Danny Williams and his childish ABC Goose Egg campaign in the last Federal Election. The Liberals that got in my riding the Danny ABC Wave had better be prepared for a much harder battle next time. That is unless Danny is mad at someone again as he usually is. How lucky we are. Everyone else hates us but Danny loves us. Well at least according to him that is.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    You have to differentiate between announced and contracted. Steve announced building armour vehicles in front our troops two years ago and then quitely cancelled the idea. If you keep counting on what this crowd announce, you will be waiting for a long time. Also you will see little coverage by our crack media in Canada when what is promised is unpromised.