Halifax, Nova Scotia, is one of the biggest and deepest ice-free natural ports in the world, making it an excellent location for shipbuilding. Founded in 1918, Halifax Shipyards Limited built the first all-Canadian destroyers during World War II and helped repair more than 7,200 ships damaged in the Battle of the Atlantic.
In the 1990s, the Halifax shipyard became a subsidiary of Irving Shipbuilding and in 2009 won a contract to build nine Hero-class patrol vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard.
The following year, a bigger opportunity arose: The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) was charged with selecting two Canadian shipyards to build 23 warships and 8 Arctic Patrol vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard. (Mott MacDonald took part in the Industry Canada research that supported the development and adoption of the NSPS.)
In October 2011, Irving Shipbuilding was chosen for the $25 billion contract for warships and patrol vessels. To meet this challenge, Irving sought engineering assistance for an ambitious renovation of its aging facilities.
In October 2012, HMM, a joint venture of Mott MacDonald and Hatch, was chosen to assist in redesigning the Halifax Shipyard facilities required for the new build strategy with construction beginning in the first quarter of 2013.
Plans for Halifax included the construction of a new ultra hall, paint hall, unit assembly hall, steel fabrication hall, launch dock, berthing pier, and parking structure. Jim Irving, co-CEO of Irving Shipbuilding, described progress as of August 2013 in a rare interview with CTV News.
The project also requires the design and purchase of an extensive equipment package, including a new ship-transfer dry dock, flat panel line, cranes, welding systems, and other equipment. Civil engineering tasks will include upgrades to roads, security systems, water supply, and stormwater and sanitary sewers.
“Throughout the NSPS contracts, as well as the preparations leading up to them, we are committed to maximizing opportunities and benefits for Canadians and Nova Scotians through subcontracting, employment and the generation of investment and benefits within the broader marine industry,” said Jim Irving.
Speaking about the project in 2010, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said, “This is a sound investment in a successful company. This investment will not only improve infrastructure at the shipyard and create jobs during construction, it will help the shipyard modernize its facility so it will stay competitive and able to bid on more contracts in the future.”
The Honourable Darrell Dexter said, “Building these ships in Nova Scotia means jobs for Nova Scotians – jobs for those who are already here, and those who for so long have had to work away. It means work for local businesses, and a better economy for Nova Scotians to raise their families.”
Diane Finley, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, said, “Jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity: that’s our government’s pledge to Canadians, and our shipbuilding strategy is an important part of how we’re delivering on that promise…. Investments, like the Halifax Shipyard Modernization Program, will create jobs and long-term economic benefits in Nova Scotia and across the country.”
November 4, 2014, was the first day of the installation of two new bridge cranes, which will be used to lift large blocks and mega modules during ship assembly. See video.