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Seaspan celebrates 30 years of ship repair in Victoria

Seaspan is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its Victoria Shipyard – a leading ship repair and modernization facility on Canada’s West Coast. Three decades ago, the business began with a 20-foot shipping container and a team of five senior managers who were tasked with re-building a thriving shipyard. Today, Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards employs 800 people, is a major economic driver for the region, and with its reputation for taking on complex repair, refit, and conversion work, is a trusted partner to government and commercial fleets in Canada and around the world.

“Our workforce is the heart of our business and will always be the root of our success. Together, we stand on the values and culture that was built 30 years ago: we continue to focus on customer relationships, quality work, timely delivery, and continuous improvement. It’s a winning formula and how we have set the gold standard in ship repair on the West Coast,” said Tony Winter, General Manager and Vice President of Seaspan Victoria Shipyards. “It is an honour to carry on the legacy of this shipyard and celebrate how far we have come — from our humble beginnings to one of Victoria’s major private sector employers.”

With a thriving shipyard comes steady jobs with good pay, and in some cases, multi-generational employment for dozens of families. The Leechs are one of those families. Gene Leech is currently a Dock Master and is responsible for safely navigating each vessel into the drydock. His son, Ben Leech, also works at Victoria Shipyards as a Senior Chargehand, pipefitter. But the story doesn’t start with Gene and Ben — the Leech legacy at the shipyard traces back to the 1920s with Gene’s grandfather building the drydock itself. Gene’s father, Jim Leech, also worked in the drydock as a machinist for 49 years and retired in 2001, the same year that Gene was promoted to Dock Master.

Seaspan Victoria Shipyards is a big contributor to the local economy. A recent socio-economic study produced by Deloitte showed that Victoria Shipyards has contributed $1.72 billion to Canada’s GDP over the last 12 years, with a total labour income of $1.27 billion and a gross output of $2.85 billion.

Operating from the Government of Canada-owned Esquimalt Graving Dock, the largest solid-bottom commercial drydock on the West Coast of the Americas, Seaspan Victoria Shipyards has used their expertise to repair 477 vessels in the drydock, including Royal Canadian Navy vessels, cruise ships, ferries, foreign navy vessels and other ships over the last three decades. It is also an integral part of the Royal Canadian Navy frigate and submarine maintenance programs, with its highly specialized team providing critical

maintenance on the Halifax-class frigates, and in-service support for the Victoria-class submarines.

While the shipyard has evolved to embrace innovation, technology, and increased automation to support its workforce, it will always be people who repair ships. “Seaspan Victoria Shipyards will always be a people-centric business,” said Tony Winter.

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