With the award of major government shipbuilding contracts still several months away, at least one smaller yard is positioning itself for more work.
When the federal government awards the two contracts for large ships, the two winning yards will not be eligible for other government work. The huge contracts will monopolize the shipyards for many years to come and will leave an open field for a myriad of smaller ships needed by the Coast Guard and private clients.
Méridien Maritime of Matane, QC has been building small craft for many years. In has built small ferries and has just completed two small tugs for Transport Desgagnés. It has also performed sub-contract work for, among others, Halifax shipyard. However its present facilities are too small to tackle larger ships. It has now applied for environmental studies with the Department of Fisheries & Oceans and Transport Canada to build a new shipyard at Gros Cacouna, QC. This man made harbour, just east of Rivière-du-Loup has been under-utilized for years, and has many advantages, including a largely ice-free location, and proximity to major rail and highway routes.
Méridien proposes to build a 170m x 30m x 17m drydock and associated plant starting this fall, for completion in 2012. The facility will allow them to repair or build larger ships or to do significant sub-contract work on others. I expect the drydock would be a graving dock, formed in the large basin created at the port. There is also lots of land for plant buildings and future expansion.