Thanks to Darryl Anderson, Wave Point Consulting, for representing BC Shipping News at the ceremony...
On April 26, 2018, Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards (VSL) celebrated the handover of Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship (HMNZS) TE KAHA at a ceremony in Victoria, B.C.
Commander Steve Lenik, RNZN Commanding Officer of HMNZS TE KAHA, spoke about the cooperation between the New Zealand and Canadian Navy that was so vital in bringing the project to the phase where it could be handed over to Lockheed Martin and Seaspan.
Building on the theme of cooperation, Helene Quilter, New Zealand Secretary of Defence noted that New Zealanders were grateful for the help provided by HMCS VANCOUVER in 2016 when her country experienced a powerful earthquake. Quilter also reflected on the best possible support provided by Lockheed Martin on the current project and dedication and commitment of Seaspan to bring this project to its current phase. Together, these partners have helped manage the challenges and the technical insights required to allow sound recommendations to be presented to the New Zealand government, so the funding for the project was in place for the project to proceed.
The handover ceremony marks the transfer of care of HMNZS TE KAHA from the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) to Lockheed Martin Canada (NYSE: LMT) and VSL. The event follows the formal announcement in March that VSL had been awarded work on the Frigate Systems Upgrade for the RNZN’s ANZAC class frigates as a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin Canada.
“Being awarded this project demonstrates Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards’ capabilities as a leader in ship repair in North America,” said Brian Carter, President & CEO of Seaspan Shipyards. “With this project, our company is building on its record as a trusted partner for both government and commercial clients in successfully managing complex projects.”
Seaspan representatives were pleased to join New Zealand’s representatives from the Ministry of Defence and the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, and Lockheed Martin Canada for the handover ceremony. With the handover complete, work will soon begin at Victoria Shipyards.
“In partnership with Lockheed Martin Canada, Victoria Shipyards is pleased to take care of HMNZS TE KAHA,” said Joe O’Rourke, Vice President & General Manager for VSL. “Winning this work speaks to the capabilities of the women and men of Seaspan and leaves us well- positioned for realizing similar opportunities in the future.” Mr. O'Rourke further noted that Seaspan’s bench strength was having a local labour force covering ten unions that enabled the company to do most of the work with the Victoria, BC-based employees. Multi-year projects for clients such as one for the RNZN are not only creating employment stability but new opportunities for apprentices. Mr. O’Rourke advised that Seaspan hired a number of apprentices last year to be ready for this project and has three-year goal of hiring between thirty to forty apprentices per year, many of them drawn from Vancouver Island post-secondary institutions such as Camosun College and others.
Seaspan’s work on the HMNZS TE KAHA and her sister ship the HMNZS TE MANA will draw heavily on the steel and electrical trades. In total, the RNZN project will generate maximum employment for 200 of Seaspan’s well-paid workforce according to O’Rourke.
Mr. O’Rourk noted the “material change that has occurred in Canadian shipbuilding as a result of the successful upgrades to the Canadian frigates.” The opportunity to work on a foreign warship is rare in Canada’s shipbuilding and ship repair industry. The project represents the first time that a foreign warship is to undergo modernization in Canada since the Second World War.
HMNZS TE KAHA will undergo extensive upgrades to its surveillance, combat and self-defense capabilities. It will allow it to match current and future threats and address obsolescence of some of the frigates’ current systems. The project builds on VSL’s highly successful subcontract work with Lockheed Martin Canada and the Halifax class modernization project which is nearing completion both on time and on budget.
HMNZS TE MANA, the RNZN’s second ANZAC class frigate, is scheduled to arrive in 2019. Seaspan Shipyards will refit and install the new systems with an expected completion date of 2020 for the entire contract.
In addition to its work on the Halifax class modernization project, VSL provides in-service support for Canada’s fleet of submarines as a subcontractor to Babcock Canada. Beyond its work for government clients, VSL also manages several complex refit and repair projects, from cruise ships to specialized vessel conversions.