Ottawa Gives Struggling St. Catharines, Ontario Shipbuilder A Welcome Shot In The Arm

NAL port weller dry docks,

 By Doug Draper

A dry spell for St. Catharines shipbuilder  Seaway Marine & Industrial Inc. – formerly Port Weller Dry Docks – came to an end this February 6 with the announcement of a $21.7 million federal government contact to refurbish the Canadian naval destroyer HMSC Athabaskan.

St. Catharines shipbuilding hard wins federal contract. File photo by Doug Draper.

The announcement was made at the at the shipbuilder’s site along the along the east side of the Welland Canal in north St. Catharines by federal Public Works and Government Services Minister Rona Ambrose and St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra.

“I couldn’t be happier to see the federal government investing again in our community”, said Dykstra, the Conservative MP for the riding.  “From Brock University in the south end, to the Performing Arts Centre downtown and now SMI in the north end, St. Catharines is clearly back on the federal radar when it comes to these types of investments.”

“Once again, the Government of Canada is drawing on the expertise of Canadian companies to deliver top-of-the-line services to our men and women in uniform,” added Ambrose during the announcement.  “We are committed to providing the Canadian Forces with the equipment and services they need, while conducting an open, fair and transparent competitive procurement process.”

SMI vice president John Dewer said the shipbuilding company is “happy to bring this work to St. Catharines. This will help in what would otherwise be a quiet summer period.”

The company has had its share of quiet periods in recent times. Last June, one of its executives expressed disappointment following the christening in Niagara of a brand new ship called the Algoma Mariner and owned by St. Catharines-based Algoma Central. The ship, which the executive could have been built at the SMI dry docks, was built in China. At the time of its christening at the southern end of the Welland Canal in Port Colborne, SMI’s St Catharines facilities was short of work and was down from a workforce of more than 140 to a skeleton staff of about five.

The refurbishing of the HMCS Athabaskan, awarded to SMI through a competitive bidding process, is required to enable the ship to keep providing continued and reliable services to the Royal Canadian Navy. It will include a docking to facilitate extensive underwater work, in addition to comprehensive maintenance and repairs on various ship systems like air, firefighting and electrical, as well as deck equipment.

 The work will begin in April and is expected to be completed by fall 2012.

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7 responses to “Ottawa Gives Struggling St. Catharines, Ontario Shipbuilder A Welcome Shot In The Arm

  1. It is about time!


  2. Great news, I worked for a shipyard as a teenager in the stores, Cammel,Lairds Birkenhead right on the River Mersey. We have to keep our shipyards busy. Making our ships in China does not help our economy. Many of the laid off welders were able to be hired in Stevensville at the wind tower factory. Any job news these days is good news, especially with the loss of 800 jobs at John Deere ,Welland.


  3. This is terrific news for the local economy. Not just the contract but also the docking facility that may bring in more work.


  4. Of course for reasons of national security Canadian warships should be maintained at home but do we really want these war ship and a war government?


  5. Of course for reasons of national security Canadian warships should be maintained at home but do we really want these warships and a war government?


  6. I am a history addict and Canadian history is my love, Canada, yes, our Canada had the third largest navy in the world at the closing of World War 2. we are a maritme nation three sides of our vast country has oceans around it and the true north is now navigible for at least 4 months and with ice breakers maybe more, the vast riches are now exposed to the hungry resource giants, The Americans tried to send us a message when they sent their ship The Manhattan through our Arctic waters years ago. I understand Doug Draper’s concern about warships, my father served during the war on the HMS Revenge protecting Halifax convoys from the U-Boats. he thought that destroyers were floating targets, some how with a little luck he came home. while we are not a war like nation, like our neighbours, we made a difference in the Libyan conflict, boxing in Ghadaffi’s fleet, also capturing pirates off the Somalia coast.The British also used them in the Falklands when the Argentine navy invaded those Islands,.those Islands had been British since 1840 longer than Hawaii and California was American.


  7. That is the point George. We can no longer tell the difference between pirates and legal if reprehensible governments or out dated claims of old colonial powers to far off territories. Whose interests will Canada’s war government be looking out for.


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