The Canadian Coast Guard ship Judy LaMarsh is undergoing a conversion and refit, which is expected to be completed by March 2025. (Patrick Butler/CBC)
A St. John's dockyard has been awarded a $34.3-million contract to convert and refit the Canadian Coast Guard ship Judy LaMarsh — which will keep Canadian waters safe, says the federal minister of fisheries and oceans.
The announcement that Newdock — also known as St. John's Dockyard Ltd. — would be doing the work was made Tuesday morning at the company's harbourside facility.
Lebouthillier, also the minister responsible for the Canadian Coast Guard, told reporters she was recently in New Brunswick, where fishermen told her how essential ships like the Judy LaMarsh are to their work.
"I can tell you that as CCGS Judy LaMarsh leaves us for the coming year, robust measures will be put in place to continue to ensure the safety of Canadians on the water and to keep vital trade routes open year-round."
Ministers Diane Lebouthillier and Gudie Hutchings were both on hand for Tuesday's announcement that Newdock had been awarded the contract to refit the Judy LaMarsh. (Patrick Butler/CBC)
The Judy LaMarsh, used as an icebreaker, also tends to navigational buoys in the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway and Atlantic Canada. When needed, it will also be called on for search and rescue and other emergency response operations, said Lebouthillier.
Lebouthillier added the work will create approximately 80 highly skilled jobs, helping stimulate the economy of the St. John's region.
The contract is part of the national shipbuilding strategy, a federal initiative aimed at renewing the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy fleets.
Jeff Ivany, Newdock's production manager, said the vessel is undergoing accommodation refurbishment and propulsion inspections, among other tasks, in a major overhaul.
"Ships repair is definitely our specialty. We've got a great workforce with a lot of years experience. And that's what we do."
Newdock production manager Jeff Ivany says the project is a big one for the company. (Kyle Mooney/CBC)
Any time a ship is being dismantled, it's a big job, he said, and there are always surprises and unknowns during a project. Most refits done at Newdock take six to 10 weeks, he added, but this particular project is more complex and will take longer.
Newdock general manager Wayne Ash told reporters the company has experience with similar projects and is confident it can deliver in a timely manner.
"We've had a number of projects now — at the vessel life-extension projects, which are fairly large projects, longer-term jobs for Newdock — that we've had experience," he said. "Those have been successfully delivered to the coast guard."
Newdock general manager Wayne Ash is confident they can meet the March 2025 deadline to complete work on the Judy LaMarsh. (Patrick Butler/CBC)
Newdock has a long history of working with the Canadian Coast Guard and the provincial government, he added.
"I think, from a point of view of the expertise that's garnered by the resources that are available within Newdock, and what we've done, performance in the past, we would like to think has been also instrumental in being considered, especially for this particular project."
He said 25 per cent of Newdock's work comes from the federal government.
Ash said the project is expected to conclude in March 2025.
"Certainly we're looking forward to being able to deliver that on time, provided that there's no major hiccups in the interim. But that's the way it is now and … we don't foresee anything at this stage of the game."