By R. Bruce Striegler

An October 2012, Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards broke ground for $200 million worth of upgrades and improvements. In March 2013, work began on the construction engineering for the Canadian Coast Guard’s offshore fisheries science vessel (OFSV). The yard upgrades were necessary for construction of seven new vessels for the Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy, awarded the Vancouver shipyard under the federal government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS). Vancouver Shipyards will construct a joint support ship, a polar ice breaker, an offshore ocean science vessel and three offshore fisheries science vessels in the seven new fabrication buildings and paint shops under the new 300 tonne shipbuilding gantry crane and from a new load-out pier.

First to be built are the offshore fisheries science vessels, and Gerald Esau, Seaspan’s OFSV program manager reports the shipyard has assembled its core program team. The group of highly experienced engineers, program managers and supply chain specialists includes STX Marine Canada, Imtech Marine Canada Inc., Thales Canada Inc. and Computer Sciences Canada. “This team, which collectively has more than 1,000 years of ship design and construction experience, is embedded at Vancouver Shipyards to ensure good lines of communication between the shipyards and team members, fostering a solid and cohesive environment. Each member plays an integral part of the Seaspan execution strategy.”

Mr. Esau explains the design effort now underway. “This work will proceed in three overlapping phases that will support each other during the evolution of the design, take ten months to complete and will lead to a build contract in early 2014.” He says the initial design phase, begun in March, will take until May 2013 and during this time key elements of the design will become clear allowing the development of initial costing.

Phased engineering design and procurement process

The second or functional phase of design is on Seaspan’s calendar from May through October. “This is a progressive process that refines vendor selection and matures the material information required to support the engineering efforts.” At the same time, the system design completion will allow for identification of equipment required, engage suppliers and, at this stage, obtain regulatory approval for the design. Esau says that initial design and functional design have a critical interface with the procurement process. Each is dependent on the other to support the overall engineering effort.

The third stage, production design, will see the beginnings of a model to define final requirements for material and layout of spaces and systems using certified vendor information acquired during the earlier phases. Mr. Esau says, “From the model we will extract manufacturing information and develop material specs, which will be used in the construction of the vessels.” A further future contract will allow for the finalization of the 3D model, and procurement of equipment requiring a long lead time.

Gerald Esau says that from a procurement stand-point, Requests for Information to potential suppliers are about to be released and Request for Proposals (RFP’s) will be sent to short-listed potential suppliers beginning in June. These documents provide Seaspan with information which includes material lead times, preliminary vendor information, pricing indications (or firm pricing in the case of RFP’s) as well as if the vendor is Canadian content (Industrial Regional Benefits or IRB) compliant.

“It’s important to Seaspan that the goals and capabilities of our suppliers are aligned closely with our own core objectives,” Esau says. “Seaspan’s core objectives are to use proven, modern technology to enhance product quality, to mature vendor and engineering data to support design. We are working to build a sustainable marine industry in Canada through the achievement of our 100 percent Canadian content commitment. We’re fostering Canadian maritime technology de­velopment through the value proposition and by working with aboriginal businesses. We are working to maximize value for money invested in shipbuilding in Canada. Seaspan wants to work with suppliers that are committed to achieving these goals. We strongly feel this will translate into a successful program.”