Thursday, March 21, 2013

German firm eyes work on ship contract

A German multinational that set up shop in Dartmouth last year is gearing up to take advantage of the Irving Shipbuilding Inc. contract.
MAN Diesel & Turbo Canada Ltd. has an agreement in place with GE Canada, which was selected by Irving as a subcontractor to provide an integrated propulsion system for the new Arctic offshore patrol ships.
Given their relatively short time in Burnside Park, the company, now working on overhauling the engines on Canada’s 12 Halifax-class frigates, is looking to make connections with other suppliers interested in working on Irving’s $25-billion, 30-year deal to build ships for the Royal Canadian Navy.
“We’re looking at meeting local industry,” Katharina Steffen, MAN Diesel manager of business development, marketing and communications, said Tuesday at an event organized by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Atlantic Alliance of Aerospace and Defence Associations.
“We’re doing a lot of service work, for example, on the frigates, and one of the things we always look for is for local companies to work with who can supply us with products and services we need.”
Because it is early in the process, Steffen could not give a dollar figure on the Arctic offshore patrol work the company hopes to procure.
However, she did say it intends to increase its local presence from seven employees to 25 in the next three or four years with positions that include service engineers, project managers, and warehouse managers.
“We’re basically looking at every opportunity we can get. Working with the universities, with the community colleges, and we’re also looking at working with local companies in order to meet our requirements.”
Representatives from dozens of regional small- and medium-sized companies attended the daylong event at the World Trade and Convention Centre, which included information on how they can position themselves to benefit from the shipbuilding procurement strategy.
“The first thing that they have to look at is what is the opportunity, what can they make out of it,” said West Nova MP Greg Kerr, who attended and spoke at the conference.
Once they identify their place in the food chain, Kerr said companies need to prepare, train and invest in anticipation of that work.

That is what Don Brenton’s Fire Protection has been doing ever since they landed a contract to upgrade the fire systems on the Victoria-class submarines.
The Halifax company established a new division, Don Breton’s Canada, to better handle opportunities associated with the Irving contract.
“So, right now, we’re working with all the industry associations, trade missions, just trying to find out where we fit,” Melissa Brenton said.
The company, an approved vendor for Irving, is also looking at potential opportunities on the West Coast, where Seaspan Marine Corp. of Vancouver, which has won the right to negotiate
$8 billion worth of federal contracts to build seven non-combat ships.
James Gillis, business development manager for Atlantic Hardchrome Ltd., said his Burnside Park company is already supplying components for MAN Diesel, so the expectation is that work will also be available once steel starts getting cut on the Arctic patrol ships in 2015.
But opportunities are there for a lot of companies, Gillis said.
“Companies like us, including all the machine shops in the Maritimes, can take advantage of what’s going on there. Perhaps you’re not going to be Tier 1, but if you’re down the food chain, and you see that maybe there’s navigation chairs that are going in (maybe you can) build the components for those chairs.”

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