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Huge contract for P.E.I. company won’t help East Isle shipyard


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With her boss Jason Aspin, left, looking on, employee Amanda Clorey provides a demonstration of systems work to P.E.I. Innovation Minister Allen Roche and Fisheries Minister Gail Shea during the announcement Friday of an $80 contract for Aspin Kemp and Associates near Montague.

 

GEORGETOWN — Irving Shipbuilding Ltd. may be a major player in building Canada’s new naval fleet, but a staggering $80-million engineering contract awarded to an Island firm last week won’t help lubricate the doors of the closed East Isle shipyard.

“We continue to look for opportunities for East Isle because we have a tremendous speciality for building tugs for global markets,’’ said Mary Keith, Irving’s chief of communications. “At the moment, we are pursuing possibilities, but these two events are not connected.”

The East Isle shipyard in Georgetown is owned by Irving Shipbuilding Ltd. and employed over 100 people. The company built high-tech specialty tugs for international sales until closing in 2010 and ending a $3 million regional payroll.

There has been hope for reopening the doors of East Isle ever since Irving landed the $25-billion contract to build combat ships in Halifax as part of the federal government’s national shipbuilding procurement strategy (NSPS) announced in 2011.

Speculation was focused on East Isle building some modular or component parts for the defensive, scientific and research vessels.

“It’s really two different things,’’ said Keith, who attended the Aspin Kemp announcement just down the road from the closed shipyard.

“Irving Shipbuilding will play a large role constructing military vessels, but most of this will be done in Halifax (shipyard) ... meanwhile we keep searching for market opportunities for East Isle.”

The $80-million contract awarded Aspin Kemp of Poole’s Corner last Friday is to provide General Electric’s Global Offshore and Marine Division with switchboards, variable frequency drives and other electrical components for drilling ships. Those ships are largely being constructed by Irving.

The Aspin Kemp contract relates to offshore contracts and will add another 50 jobs to the company’s 120 roster. Aspin Kemp is now a preferred customer of GE which is a major supplier to Irving.

Although the work under this contract is unrelated to the construction of Canada’s new naval fleet, it is a direct result of the federal government’s NSPS to generate economic benefits by building ships at home.

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