Irving Shipbuilding

Irving Shipbuilding Inc. is a Canadian shipbuilder and in-service support provider. The company owns industrial fabricator Woodside Industries in Dartmouth, Halifax Shipyard as the largest facility and company head office. In addition, the Shelburne Ship Repair for serving small and medium-sized vessels and Halifax-based Fleetway Inc., an engineering and design, support and project management firm.

Irving Shipbuilding Inc.
Private company
IndustryShipbuilding and Repair
Founded1959 (1959)
Key people
James D. Irving
Kevin M. McCoy
Number of employees
ParentJ.D. Irving
SubsidiariesHalifax Shipyard

Irving Shipbuilding Inc. was incorporated in 1959 and is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The company operates as a subsidiary of J.D. Irving Limited.



The company's history began in 1959, when K.C. Irving purchased Saint John Shipbuilding which was renamed Irving Shipbuilding.[1]

20th-century developments

In 1994, Irving Shipbuilding bought the Halifax-Dartmouth Industries Limited in Halifax, Nova Scotia, creating Canada's largest shipbuilding company.[2][3] Later, the management renamed the yard to Halifax Shipyard Limited. At the same time the company acquired the East Isle Shipyard, a facility on Prince Edward Island that built modules for frigates.

Subsequently, Irving Shipbuilding purchased the Shelburne Ship Repair shipyard in Shelburne to support the Halifax-class project. The company also had a lease agreement on the Pictou Shipyard which has been dormant since the summer of 2004.[4] Later the Pictou Shipyard was purchased in 2008 by Aecon Atlantic Industrial Inc., a member of Aecon Group Inc.

In 1997, Saint John Naval Systems acquired and merged with Fleetway Consulting Services Inc. in Ottawa, Ontario, forming a new company -- Fleetway Inc, after Irving bought that company.[5]

21st-century developments

On 27 June 2003, Irving Shipbuilding announced that it had signed an agreement with the federal government for $55 million in economic readjustment funding provided that Saint John Shipbuilding be closed permanently.[6][7]

In 2008 Irving Shipbuilding was awarded a $549M contract to modernize seven of Canada's fleet of Halifax-class frigates. In 2016, the final frigate, HMCS Toronto, completed modernization at the Halifax Shipyard.[8]

On September 2009, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister of National Defence announced that nine mid shore patrol vessels were being ordered from Irving Shipbuilding to be constructed at Halifax Shipyard in Halifax, Nova Scotia for a cost of $194 million.[9]

In January 2010, ownership of Shelburne Ship Repair was transferred to Irving Shipbuilding in an agreement under the province's Industrial Expansion Fund whereby Nova Scotia would provide an $8.8-million loan for the yard's upgrades. Irving Shipbuilding operated the Shelburne Ship Repair for 13 years under lease.[10]

Later, in 2010, Irving Shipbuilding invested $16.6 million in upgrades of Shelburne Ship Repair, to modernize the yard's cradle and marine railway, as well as the wharf. The upgrade was completed between April 2010 and Aug 2011 and included removing the old cradle and marine railway and designing and building new ones to accommodate two larger vessels simultaneously. It also included dredging and reconstructing the wharf, general paving and repairs, fencing and shop and office repairs.[11]

In 2011, the historic National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) was undertaken by the Canadian Government, seeking to identify two shipbuilding "Centres of Excellence" for the country for the next 30 years. Irving Shipbuilding was selected by the Canadian Government to build the Royal Canadian Navy's new combat fleet, a program that comprises 21 vessels and $25 billion over a period of 30 years.[12][13][14]

In 2013 Irving Shipbuilding has started its $300-million modernization of the Halifax Shipyard to accommodate the building of vessels for the federal government.[15][16][17]

On August 6, 2013 Kevin M. McCoy joined the company as a President of Irving Shipbuilding Inc.[18]

In January, 2015 Irving Shipbuilding and the federal government have signed a contract to build six Arctic offshore patrol ships and the deal guarantees the Halifax yard five ships with a ceiling of $2.3 billion.[19]

On October, 2016 Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and the Nunavut Research Institute (NRI) awarded $2 million in funding to nine applied Arctic research projects.[20][21]

On March, 2017 Irving Shipbuilding announced it would contribute $4.52 million to the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, as part an obligation under the National Shipbuilding Strategy that requires the company to re-invest a portion of its contract revenues.[22][23][24]


Halifax Shipyard

The Halifax Shipyard is ISI's largest facility and company head office.

In 2009, the Halifax Shipyard employed 470 people.[25]

East Isle Shipyard

Located near Georgetown, Prince Edward Island, on Canada's Atlantic Coast, East Isle Shipyard is Irving Shipbuilding Inc.’s main tug-building facility.

As on October, 2014 the company employed over 100 people.[26]

Woodside Shipyard

The Woodside Shipyard in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia also offers various construction, modification, upgrade and maintenance services from its deepwater quayside facilities.

The Woodside Shipyard employed 127 (FTE) in 2009.[25]

Shelburne Ship Repair

ISI's Shelburne Ship Repair facility is equipped to serve small and medium-size vessels. The yard has marine railway capable of lifting 3,500 tonnes and can be subdivided for two different vessels. It also has 752 metres of wharf available with a draft of 9.1 metres and can accommodate vessels of up to 229 metres alongside.

Shelburne Ship Repair employed 48 employees (FTE) in 2009 at above-average wage rates.[25]

Fleetway Inc.

ISI also operates a subsidiary company called Fleetway Inc. which provides naval engineering and technical services. The company works with firms in the Canadian defence, oil and gas, shipbuilding and other sectors.

Fleetway employed more than 80 employees in 2009.[25]


Irving Shipbuilding as part of J.D. Irving Limited[27] is often criticized by both the local government and the media.

In September 2009, Irving Shipbuilding was awarded a $198 million-contract for built nine mid-shore patrol ships for Canadian Coast Guard. The ships were delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard from 2012 to 2014. In late 2015 and early 2016, various media outlets carried reports about electrical and mechanical problems dogging the 43-metre ships. According to a news report from the Chronicle Herald in December 2015, among the unions concerns were around the issues of: water could flow from compartment to compartment putting the ship at risk; rolling stabilization; the ability to lower lifeboats with crew onboard; and major fire protection issues.[28] A report from the CBC said warranty claims by the coast guard include: faulty wiring, polluted water tanks, premature corrosion and gearbox failure.[29] In the summer of 2016, one of the ships had to undergo repairs because of corrosion.[30]

In November 2013, between 200 and 300 workers at the Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard walked off the job complaining of bullying by management. Workers staged a walkout at the Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard to protest against what they say is management harassment after a colleague who had been suspended without pay for 30 days shot himself and died.[31][32] Later, the president of Irving Shipbuilding, Kevin McCoy said that bullying not a factor in shipyard employee suicide.[33]


  1. "Maritime mission". Industry Today. 11 (6). 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  2. Victor L. Settle (August 1994). Halifax Shipyards. 1918-1978: An Historical Perspective (PDF). Masters Atlantic Canada Studies, Saint Mary's University. p. 140.
  3. Hallfax Mali Star. 22 February 1994, p. 1.
  5. Tony Thatcher (May 10, 2017). "MCDV Contractor Team". Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  6. "Irving family closing idled Saint John shipyard". CBC News. June 27, 2003. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  7. Kevin Cox (June 28, 2003). "Canada's largest shipyard closes for good". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  8. Andrea Gunn (November 28, 2016). "Irving finishes frigate refits for navy". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  9. Oliver Moore (September 3, 2009). "Coast Guard to be beefed up with nine new ships". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  10. Tom Peters (May 14, 2013). "A revitalized Shelburne Ship Repair ready to compete for more business". Canadian Sailings magazine. Great White Publications Inc. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  11. "Shelburne Ship Repair back in business". CTV Atlantic. September 13, 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  12. Chris Lambie (October 18, 2011). "Halifax awarded $25-billion shipbuilding contract". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  13. Josh Visser (October 19, 2011). "Halifax wins $25 billion shipbuilding contract". CTV News. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  14. Laura Payton (October 19, 2011). "Halifax, B.C. yards win shipbuilding work". CBC News. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  15. "Irving awards $28.2m in contracts to modernize Halifax shipyard". The Chronicle Herald. December 10, 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  16. Jane Taber (August 21, 2013). "Irving ramps up for Halifax Shipyard contract". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  17. Keith Doucette (March 4, 2016). "Irving Shipbuilding opens new Halifax facility as questions swirl over frigate contract". Toronto Star. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  18. Sam LaGrone (July 18, 2013). "Former NAVSEA Commander to Lead Canadian Shipbuilder". United States Naval Institute. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  19. Paul Withers (January 16, 2015). "Irving reaches shipbuilding deal with federal government". CBC News. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  20. "Irving puts $2M into Arctic research". The Chronicle Herald. October 5, 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  21. Elyse Skura (October 5, 2016). "Arctic projects get $2M from Irving Shipbuilding and Nunavut Research Institute". CBC News. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  22. Michael Gorman (March 16, 2017). "Operational funding for ocean tech site sails in from Irving". CBC News. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  23. Aly Thomson (March 16, 2017). "Irving gives $4.5m to ocean research centre for Dartmouth Cove". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  24. "Ocean technology facility on Halifax harbour gets $4.5 million investment". Times Colonist. March 16, 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  25. "Halifax: Becoming a Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence" (PDF). The Greater Halifax Partnership (Prepared by: Jupia Consultants Inc.). May 2011. p. 7. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  26. Steve Sharratt (October 15, 2014). "Huge contract for P.E.I. company won't help East Isle shipyard". The Guardian (Charlottetown). Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  27. "J.D. Irving, Limited, Products and Services". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  28. Andrea Gunn (December 13, 2015). "Union alleges coast guard vessels are unsafe". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  29. "Coast guard patrol ships' issues lead to numerous warranty claims". CBC News. January 27, 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  30. David Pugliese (January 3, 2017). "Galleys to be redesigned on Coast Guard patrol ships to allow crews to cook safely on board". National Post. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  31. "Halifax Shipyard workers walk off job alleging bullying". CBC News. November 28, 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  32. Jane Taber (November 28, 2013). "Halifax Shipyard workers walk out after death linked to suspension". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  33. Geordon Omand (November 29, 2013). "Bullying not a factor in shipyard employee suicide: Irving president". Metro News Canada. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
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