Congratulations to both Elizabeth James for asking the questions in her Feb. 6 column, Hoping for Happy Endings, and to the North Shore News for publishing the article. I look forward to the answers.
Here are a few more questions to add to the list: 1. If the survival of shipbuilding in British Columbia depended on Seaspan Shipyards being awarded this contract (as claimed by Seaspan), why did Seaspan build three tugs in Turkey and one in the United States? All three now work in the Port of Vancouver.
2. If the $200,000,000 to be invested in the shipyard in North Vancouver is to enable the construction of ships to be built under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy program, why could those same funds not have been invested previously? That may have allowed some of the 89 container ships already owned by or being built by the Seaspan group (valued in our opinion at about $3.5 billion) to have been built here.
3. If the planned icebreaker is needed to exercise Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic, then one would assume that the need is for sooner rather than later. Was any consideration given to buying such a ship more or less "off the shelf" from the Finns or the Russians who are experts in this field and could probably deliver the ship within two years at about 70 per cent of the price? The same could be said of the two navy supply ships. These could be bought from National Steel and Ship Building (NASSCO General Dynamics) located in San Diego who have built 12 ships that meet or could meet the same specifications under the US Navy T-AKE Program and at much less cost.
4. Is it realistic to think that shipbuilding in British Columbia in the long term can be commercially viable and internationally competitive as is being claimed? The answer to that question must surely be evidenced by the tugs that Seaspan built in Turkey and the United States rather than in their own shipyards, the B.C. ferries built in Germany, and the proposed SeaBus to be built in Singapore. I have not seen any proposal to build any commercial ships during the 30-year life of the NSPS and the reality is that shipbuilding here will not exist without public funding in the form of government sponsorship or military orders.
John May, Eurocanadian Shipping Ltd. Vancouver
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