Irving Shipyard to lay off workers as it ramps up renos to build navy ships

HALIFAX – The Irving Shipyard in Halifax will begin laying off part of its workforce by the end of September as the site prepares for $300 million in renovations to start building a new fleet of navy ships.

Scott Jamieson, vice-president of programs at the shipyard, says the move is necessary to proceed with the construction of new facilities.

Jamieson couldn’t give the number of employees to be laid off, but says a number of trades will be affected at the site, which employs about 900 shipyard workers.

He says the company hopes some of those workers will be recalled when work on six to eight Arctic offshore patrol vessels begins in 2015.

The company received a $260 million loan from the provincial government in March 2012 to help with the shipyard’s upgrades, which will include the construction of an assembly hall and painting facilities.

Irving has awarded $127.7 million in contracts since it won a $25-billion deal in October 2011 to build 21 combat vessels for the navy.

“We are committed to maximizing opportunities and benefits for Canadians and Nova Scotians through subcontracting, employment and the generation of investment and benefits within the broader marine industry,” CEO Jim Irving said in a statement.

Under the overall $35-billion federal shipbuilding procurement project, Seaspan Marine in Vancouver has also been awarded an $8-billion contract to build non-combat ships. Construction of those vessels is expected to begin as early as 2014.

A contract for another $2 billion for smaller vessels is yet to be awarded.