by Mark Cardwell

Officials with Davie Shipyard are hoping that the efforts of the company’s new office in Ottawa will help it to land some federal contracts. “Historically, the Canadian government has been a major client for Davie and we want that to continue,” Alex Vicefield, CEO of Inocea Group, Davie’s parent company, said from Davie’s new digs at 255 Albert Street in Ottawa.

According to Vicefield, the decision to open an office in Ottawa was taken last fall following the signing of a strategic alliance between Davie and British international marine engineering firm Babcock. Under the 5-year agreement, the two companies are working together to develop and exploit opportunities pertaining to federal fleet renewal and programs such as the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy – or NSPS. Notably, Babcock’s Ottawa office is also on Albert Street. The two companies also have a joint office at the Davie shipyard in Levis, Quebec.

The new Ottawa office will have a small staff, the most senior member being Davie’s Vice-President Commercial, John Schmidt. “Ottawa is a good place to be,” said Schmidt.  “There is a lot of un-contracted federal work around (NSPS).  But government policy extends way beyond that. We’re also interested in industrial projects like (Defence Procurement Strategy – or DPS) and other consultative activities. So Ottawa is the place to be.”

In other Davie news, Vicefield said the company is getting ready to commission the Cecon Pride. The first in a series of three OCVs under construction at the Levis yard, the high-tech vessel was launched with great fanfare in October. Vicefield said sea trials will begin “once weather conditions permit.” He added that work is also progressing on the second Cecon vessel, and that steel will begin to be cut for the first of two ferries that Davie is contracted to build for the Quebec government.

“Things are going very well,” said Vicefield, adding that 838 employees are currently working at the Levis yard. He refused to comment, however, on the lawsuit filed by Irving Shipbuilding against Davie and former Irving Shipbuilding executive, Jared Newcombe, who is now with Davie. In an amended Statement of Claim filed on Feb. 17, Irving Shipbuilding states that Newcombe breached the terms of his contract by conveying confidential business and proprietary information to Davie after he left Irving to join Davie in April, 2013. Because Davie is a competitor, Irving Shipbuilding contends that “any possession or use of the misappropriated Irving Shipbuilding documents is unfair and unjust.” Irving Shipbuilding is seeking the return of its information as well as damages. On Feb. 18, Davie issued a press release saying it “categorically denies all of the allegations made against it by Irving Shipbuilding (and) intends to vigorously defend against these allegations, if and when Irving is granted an order adding Davie as a defendant. Davie is confident that the court will find in its favour. “In the meantime,” continues the release, “we continue to deliver on our contracts and maintain focus on strengthening Canada’s shipbuilding Sector.”