HALIFAX – The shipyard that did refit work on a navy warship before it was damaged while returning to Halifax says the repair bill had already cost $5 million more than expected before the vessel left its dock.
The Defence Department announced last February that Seaway Marine Inc. of St. Catharines, Ont., was awarded a $21.7 million contract to repair HMCS Athabaskan as part of a scheduled refit. The company was contracted to repair air pressure systems and firefighting and deck equipment, as well as strip, repair and repaint the underwater portion of the hull.
But Charles Payne, the company’s president, said inspectors discovered more rust and damage than expected when they examined the 40-year-old destroyer.
“As you remove the paint, you find structural problems and the structural problems are dealt with,” Payne said in an interview Friday.
Payne said the navy asked for more repairs, and the final bill came to $26.7 million.
“They (the destroyers) are in very, very poor condition,” Payne said in an interview Friday. “That’s what caused all this work arising … the condition of the vessel.”
He said the work went on almost two weeks longer than expected.
The Athabaskan suffered damage to its hull while it was being towed back to Halifax and is now moored in Sydney, N.S. The military has said it is assessing that damage and trying to determine when it occurred.
Last Friday, tethering lines broke after the vessel left Sydney and was being towed in rough waters off a rocky shoal, a military spokesman has said.
Payne said the repair work was supposed to have been completed in late November, and navy officers were then expected to recommission the destroyer’s engines while at the shipyard.
The ship was expected to steam back to Halifax under its own power before the St. Lawrence Seaway closed for the winter. But Payne said because the repairs took longer than expected, there wasn’t enough time for the navy to recommission the engines before the seaway closed.
He said the navy then decided to have the vessel towed, rather than leaving it in dry dock over the winter.
The Defence and Public Works Departments did not return messages for comment.
HMCS Athabaskan was commissioned on Sept. 30, 1972.
The ship is one of three Iroquois-class destroyers that provide navy task groups with air defence and command and control capabilities.