Seapan sees return of large-scale projects

by | 23rd February 2023 | Shiprepair & Maintenance - News, Commercial Shipping

Home News Seapan sees return of large-scale projects
Seapan sees return of large-scale projects

An upturn in cruise ship activity was a high point for the yard operator in 2022.

Seaspan’s Vancouver Drydock handled a number of large repair projects during 2022, most notably having four cruise ships stopping by over the course of a few months. Two of the cruise ships were worked on simultaneously, in a first for the yard.

The first cruise ship to dock last year was Hurtigruten Expedition’s Roald Amundsen for general maintenance work, including minor steel modifications and a new coat of paint for the underwater hull. The Seven Seas Mariner followed in July, while National Geographic’s polar expedition ship Resolution and the Oceania Regatta were docked in August.

Paul Hebson, vice president and general manager, Seaspan Vancouver, says: “Having two large cruise ship projects on the go at the same time was challenging in that it was the first time we had two vessels of this size docked together, with each bringing with them several hundred staff and crew. However, both projects were completed on time, as we altered our drydock operations to run 24/7 during the time these vessels were in, which allowed our team to work non-stop for the two-week long period and ensure that the vessels remained on schedule.”

Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards facility was busy all year long with a mix of work, including both long-term Naval programmes and commercial repair and maintenance projects. On the commercial side, the most significant project at the yard in 2022 was the completion of TOTE Maritime’s Midnight Sun conversion to run on LNG dual-fuel technology, marking the first time in North America a large vessel has been converted to LNG. Victoria Shipyards carried out the final transition of the vessel to support dual-fuel operation, which involved installing five kilometres of piping to modify systems throughout the vessel. The team also installed eight new structures on the vessel, including new decks to support the two new LNG tanks located behind the bridge. Additional modifications were made to the electrical systems, and structural insulation was renewed to comply with regulations.

At both Seaspan yards, 2023 has got off to a strong start, with a steady pipeline of work booked in already. At Vancouver Drydock, two BC Ferries are due come in for regular maintenance this spring, as well as two Canadian Coast Guard vessels in February. In Victoria, TOTE’s North Star is currently undergoing the same LNG conversion work that its sister ship, Midnight Sun, did in 2022, with completion expected in February 2023. The Victoria yard is also anticipating the arrival of large cruise ships in mid-2023, marking a return of this type of work which it regularly undertook prior to the pandemic.

Overall, last year was a steady one for the two Seaspan yards. At Vancouver the volume of work was similar to that undertaken in recent years, while in Victoria there was an upturn in commercial shipping related activity. This pattern is expected to be sustained in 2023, with the company projecting that commercial work volumes in Victoria will this year rise back to pre-Covid levels.

Hebson adds: “At Seaspan we are excited for the year ahead, as we collectively turn the final corner out of the Covid pandemic. Our drydock in North Vancouver continues to run at near capacity, with no signs of slowing down and the return of cruise ships in British Columbia helps to further bolster our optimism for the return of our regular cadence of repair and maintenance work in that sector. With the global interest in combatting climate change, we are also confident that Seaspan’s new LNG conversion capabilities will become of interest to operators on the West Coast, as more organisations look to alternative fuel sources.”

To ensure it has the capacity it needs to meet growing customer demand, Seaspan has submitted an application to expand its Vancouver facility and add two new smaller floating drydocks and a work pontoon to its existing operations. The company says it expects to receive a decision on the project, which will expand the number of vessels it can accommodate at any one time, from the Port of Vancouver this Spring.

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