Victoria Shipyards poised for piece of $180M New Zealand project

Sources: Times Colonist
Author: Carla Wilson
Date: May 2, 2014

Victoria Shipyards is in line to install new combat systems on two New Zealand frigates as part of a larger $180-million contract signed this week by Lockheed Martin Canada.

The Victoria installation job has not been finalized, but industry watchers are optimistic that will happen because the Seaspan Marine-owned shipyard and Lockheed Martin Canada have been working together on a mid-life modernization of Canada’s Halifax-class frigates at Esquimalt Graving Dock.

If successful, installation would start in 2016.

Lockheed Martin Canada and New Zealand signed a contract Tuesday to upgrade two ANZAC Class frigates, which are close to 20 years old.

The deal marks the company’s first export sale for its combat management system, enhancing its position on the international stage and offering the potential to diversify the source of contracts at Canadian shipyards.

Lockheed Martin’s entire New Zealand contract is worth more than $180 million over four years, a joint company-New Zealand statement said. It is not clear how much of that value may come to Victoria.

The project could result in several hundred jobs over a couple of years, said Phil Venoit, president of Vancouver Island office of the B.C. and Yukon Territory Building Construction Trades Council.

The Canadian frigate project has “resonated throughout the world … and has provided us with the opportunity to do very similar upgrades for the New Zealand navy,” Venoit said.

Don McClure, vice-president of business development and government relations for Lockheed Martin Canada, agreed. “Because of that work, we were successful in getting New Zealand to consider doing their work in Victoria as well,” he said.

The agreement will see Lockheed Martin Canada design, install and integrate its combat management system at a naval base in Auckland, and supply the frigates with new sensor and weapon systems. The systems include software, sensors and computers, McClure said.

Much of the work would be done at company facilities in Dartmouth, N.S., Kanata, Ont., and Montreal, he said.

Installing systems on the New Zealand ships would be “exactly the same work we are doing on the Halifax class [frigates] in the shipyard.” Shipyard workers would do the installation, working with Lockheed Martin Canada staff, he said.

It’s up to New Zealand to decide whether to accept the eventual price for the work. McClure said he is confident the figure will suit New Zealand because of the experience the company has gained from the Canadian frigate project. Lockheed Martin Canada is the prime contractor not only for the West Coast frigates but also those on the East Coast, in a multi-year program valued by the federal government at $2 billion.

Malcolm Barker, vice-president and general manager of Victoria Shipyards said in a statement, “Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards has enjoyed a successful working relationship throughout the entire FELEX [frigate life extension] program and we look forward to supporting the success of the New Zealand ANZAC frigate program with Lockheed Martin.”

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said it will be “fantastic” if Victoria Shipyards gets the job.

“It supports continuity for the shipyard, which helps develop a workforce and the steady work helps the local community because we know the boost to the economy that will come to that.”

This job would bring a new major customer to the shipyard, helping reduce the reliance on federal contracts, she said.

- See more at: