News

Esquimalt Drydock Co. wins Queen of Capilano upgrade contract

Source: Times Colonist
Author: Carla Wilson
Published Date: December 11, 2014

An Esquimalt shipyard that has won its biggest B.C. Ferries contract to date is hoping this job will lead to more similar work in the future.

Esquimalt Drydock Co. is carrying out a $12-million mid-life upgrade on the Queen of Capilano from Jan. 5 to May 5.

“It means quite a bit to our company,” says Joe Sansalone, company general manager.

“It’s a stepping stone to some of the bigger life-extension contracts that are coming up at B.C. Ferries. It gets us in the loop and gives our people a little bit more training on life extensions.”

The contract will provide work for about 75 employees, with numbers rising to 150 at its peak, Sansalone said.

“We sharpened our pencils,” to win this job, he said. Esquimalt Drydock has done other jobs for Ferries but this is the largest single ferry contract so far for the 16-year-old company.

This project is meant to give the 23-year-old ship another 20 years of life.

Pre-fabrication work will be done on the mainland and the rest of the work, such as installation, will be done at the federally owned Esquimalt Graving Dock, he said.

The 314-foot-long Queen of Capilano has room for 85 vehicles and 451 passengers and crew members.

It runs between Bowen Island and Horseshoe Bay. B.C. Ferries is putting on other services, such as a shuttle bus and more sailings, while the smaller Bowen Queen fills in.

Safety, mechanical and customer service upgrades are planned for the Queen of Capilano, B.C. Ferries said.

Improvements include installing decks to boost capacity to 100 vehicles, a new entrance and exit area for walk-on passengers, a new evacuation system and rescue boat, and a pet area.

“A significant upgrade such as the one the Queen of Capilano is undergoing allows B.C. Ferries to operate a more efficient vessel for decades into the future,” said Mark Wilson, Ferries vice-president of engineering.

“Most importantly, the end result is a safe and dependable ferry service for the community of Bowen Island.”

For Sansalone, the new jobs help his company to be competitive with other yards. B.C.’s shipbuilding and repair industry struggled for decades to survive.

But that changed when Seaspan won the rights to negotiate $11.3-billion worth of construction for federal non-combat ships.

The first federal vessel is now being built at Seaspan’s North Vancouver Shipyard.

The total program is anticipated to continue for many years, sparking further investment, training and contracts for the company and other shipyards on this coast.

At Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards in Esquimalt, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of work on navy frigates and submarines is underway.

B.C. Ferries is expecting to spend $227 million for infrastructure this fiscal year.

One sore point in the province is B.C. Ferries’ decision to have three intermediate-class vessels built in Poland for $165 million.

Seaspan had been shortlisted but withdrew because its yards are busy with other jobs.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com