There were political speeches, congratulations and spray from a bottle of champagne smashed against the bow of the Sir John Franklin on Friday as dignitaries gathered at North Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards to mark construction of the first large vessel to be designed and built in Canada in a generation.
“I’ve dreamed about this day just about every day for the past six years,” said Brian Carter, president of Seaspan Shipyards, standing below the looming bow of the federal fisheries vessel as it sat ready to be moved on to the shipyard’s movable dry-dock and floated off into Burrard Inlet over the weekend.
The ship – currently 93 per cent finished - will be towed to Victoria Shipyards early next week where final work on the vessel will be completed. The company is expected to deliver the ship to the federal government next summer.
“This ship stands as a testament to the capabilities of our workforce and our company and our industry,” said Carter.
Carter added the federal government’s national shipbuilding strategy – under which Seaspan won the right to build a series of large non-combat vessels in 2011 – “will absolutely deliver on its goal of returning a proud sustainable industry to Canada.”
Jeff Hutchinson, commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, praised Seaspan workers for building the vessel. “130,000 different ship parts don’t get assembled to look like that without all of you,” he told them.
The ship represents a “significant milestone,” for Canada, he said.
“A sailor needs iron will, courage and a ship,” he said. “The ship part’s really important.”
The Sir John Franklin, a 63-metre fisheries research vessel, is the first of three offshore fisheries vessels being built at Seaspan at a cost of a combined $514 million.