HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Canadian shipbuilding modernization will create jobs and improve Canada's capacity to build a range of vessels in response to government and industry procurement instead of farming out contracts abroad, industry analysts said.
Adding to recent contracts, including those awarded by the government to shipyards and ancillary companies, Irving Shipbuilding announced it gave out new contracts worth $28.2 million.
Most of the contracts go to suppliers based within the country and are part of a Halifax shipyard modernization program.
The two-year program is seen to be injecting new funds into engineering and construction capacity growth that officials and industry experts will improve facilities for future building of warships.
"To date [contracts to] a total value of $175 million in contracts have been awarded as part of our overall investment of approximately $300 million in the Halifax Shipyard Modernization Program," Irving Shipbuilding President Kevin McCoy said in comments cited on the company website.
The company says work under way at the shipyard and set to begin in the coming few years is aimed at building capacity to build larger, more complex and versatile combatant vessels.
Canada's naval modernization program is still in early stages, officials say. Before work on large combatant ships can begin the Irving Shipbuilding shipyard will concentrate on building vessels for Canada's ambitious Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships program, said to be worth more than $4 billion.
Canada has stepped up its diplomatic, political and military effort to project its sovereignty claim on the arctic region north of the country.
Opposition critics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper say the campaign may be too late in some respects, because Russia and northern European countries have moved to register competing claims on the area.
The Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship program is a procurement undertaking for the Canadian navy and a part of a wider National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. Officials say the strategy is aimed at reviving and strengthening Canadian shipyards and making Canada self-sufficient, as much as possible, in the sector.
The navy aims to add up to eight ice-breaking vessels, likely to be modeled on the Norwegian Svalbard class. Officials have cited several successive deadlines for the military shipbuilding program, the earliest date of 2015 set for smaller ships and 2020 as the start of production of larger combat vessels.
"With so many significant changes under way, it is a constant reminder that 2015 is not far away and we'll be building navy ships at Halifax Shipyard very soon," McCoy said.
Irving said the selection of suppliers for the Modernization Program followed a rigorous procurement process where quality, reliability, experience and cost was assessed to select companies that would help Irving Shipbuilding deliver "best value to Canada," a shipyard news release said.
Of the contracts awarded so far, 82 per cent of the total contract value has been awarded to Canadian companies, while 52 per cent of total contract value has been awarded to companies owned or operating in Nova Scotia.
Among the winning bidders cited by Irving Shipbuilding are Harris Rebar, Dartmouth, and Dexter Construction, Pipe & Piling, Black & MacDonald, and Eastern Fence, all based in or owned by Nova Scotia interests.
Companies outside Nova Scotia awarded contracts include Bermingham Foundation Solutions, based in Hamilton, Ontario, and a subcontractor under Gulf Operators.
Other Canadian companies that won contracts include: Skyline Steel, St. Bruno, Q.C.; as well as Gulf Operators' subcontractor Con-Tech Systems Ltd., which has headquarters near Vancouver, B.C., the Daily Business Buzz reported.
McCoy said he expects more jobs to become available with the award of new contracts.
"The economic impacts, such as the jobs in shipbuilding, engineering, planning and supply chain, will scale up with the preparation and start of production on [Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship program] in 2015 while the indirect jobs within our supply chain and our suppliers' supply chains will follow," McCoy said.