Strengthening the Canadian marine industry

If you take a trip down to the waterfront of Hamilton, Ontario, chances are you will see a Canadian Coast Guard ship (CCGS) docked at Heddle Shipyards. That’s because, since 2020, the company has been refitting ships on behalf of the Canadian Coast Guard.

Side view of large ship in dry dock

Over the last 30 years, Heddle Shipyards has grown to be the largest Canadian ship repair and construction company on the Great Lakes. A commitment to safety, hard work and innovative thinking has allowed the company to expand its operations to 2 other shipyards, located in St. Catharines and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Under the National Shipbuilding Strategy’s refit, repair and maintenance pillar, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) awarded 4 contracts, open to small and medium-sized businesses, to Heddle Shipyards.

Valued at more than $23 million, these contracts allow Heddle Shipyards to work on 4 Coast Guard ships, the most recent being the CCGS Amundsen, which required major upgrades. Heddle Shipyards was awarded the contract in September 2021 for $10.7 million. The ship arrived at the St. Catharines dockyard in November 2021 and is currently in the first stage of the refit.

The contract for the CCGS Amundsen will help create and sustain over 100 jobs at the Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines. It will also support dozens of other businesses in the surrounding region of Niagara, Ontario.

Heddle Shipyards will outsource certain components to suppliers, subcontractors and contractors to help with the project, thus bringing spin-off benefits to industries and surrounding communities.

Supporting new talent

In addition to supporting local subcontractors and businesses, Heddle Shipyards is supporting the next generation of shipbuilders. The shipyard has partnered with Mohawk College in Hamilton to create the Ship Repair and Fabrication course.

The course provides skills development in welding, mechanical maintenance, and painting and coating. It also teaches practical skills needed to begin a successful career in the shipbuilding industry.

This 6-week program is delivered at the college’s main campus and Heddle Shipyards. Learners have the opportunity to work on a retired ship that otherwise would be scrapped. The hands-on experiences allow students to use real materials and examples throughout their assignments.

“We’re hoping that, when students finish the program, it will lead to full-time employment with us,” said the President of Heddle Shipyards, Shaun Padulo. “I’m confident that the program will be a success and that, in the future, we can offer the same opportunities at Niagara College and Confederation College.”

Working together

The Coast Guard ships that require repair, refit and maintenance work generate economic benefits for the companies that work on them and their surrounding communities.

“We’re appreciative and proud of all the work we do for Canada. The more consistent work the Canadian Coast Guard and PSPC can send to Canadian shipyards, the better. We all need to work together to figure out how we can continue to strengthen the Canadian marine industry,” said Padulo.

For more information, visit the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Workers lowering large piece of machinery
Welder working on hull of ship
Front view of large ship in dry dock
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