Jonathan Whitworth, CEO of Seaspan ULC, has responded to a CBC story last week that took issue with the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The story quoted Alex Vicefield, head of Quebec's Davie shipyard, who called the shipbuilding plan an "international embarrassment" with a "bizarre" costing regime and "exorbitant" prices.

Below is the full text of Mr. Whitmore's statement:

Seaspan rejects the CBC story on the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).  At no time did Mr. Milewski choose to contact Seaspan for story content, though he is happy to invoke our name and understate our considerable progress since being selected to build vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. He also takes at face value the pretentions of Davie's most recent owner from his home in Monaco.
For the record:

  • Canada determined that two shipyards were required to effectively manage the rebuilding of Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy fleets with a goal to eliminate the boom and bust cycles that have defined previous federal shipbuilding programs.
  • Chantier Davie participated in the competition to select those two shipyards through an open procurement process that the Auditor General has described as a “successful and efficient process independent of political influence, consistent with government regulations and policies, and carried out in an open and transparent manner”.
  • Seaspan and Irving Shipbuilding won the competition and Chantier Davie lost.
  • The shipbuilding strategy and the sequencing of the vessel build was adopted by the previous government in Ottawa and endorsed publicly by the current government.

Since winning the competition, Seaspan:

  • has invested $170 million of its own money to build the most modern shipyard of its kind in North America, purposely built to manufacture the vessels committed to us under NSS;
  • has 31 of 37 blocks under construction for our first Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel with the second of three ships to begin construction in a matter of weeks;
  • is working under contract with Canada to produce the next vessels under NSS – the Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel and Joint Support Ships;
  • employs over 700 people for the work we have today and project that number to climb to close to 1,500 at the peak of manufacturing;
  • has awarded supply contracts valued to date at over $380 million to more than 150 Canadian companies with more to come as the program evolves; and,
  • has made significant investments in a BC-based Aboriginal Apprenticeship Training Initiative and recently supported the creation of two Chairs at the University of British Columbia in their naval architecture and marine engineering disciplines as part of our commitments to Canada under NSS. 

In contrast, while Chantier Davie complains openly about the pace and performance of NSS and asserts its ability to meet Canada’s maritime needs ‘more quickly and at a much lower cost’, its own financial and production performance record has yet to find its way into the public discourse. 
In the meantime, we’ll build the vessels we have been awarded to build for the Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy – including at least one Polar Icebreaker.