I can vividly remember my first day at work at the Marystown Shipyard, now owned by Kiewit. It was June 23, 1973. I was hired as an apprentice engine fitter, and you can only imagine how proud and fortunate I felt when my supervisor, Mr. Patrick Sing, said, “Your first job will be to assist Mr. Albert Taylor over in the main shed.”
I get a sense that Travis Hann and Ernie Lundrigan and many others employees must have felt equally proud and fortunate after assisting approximately 1,298 other employees construct the drilling support module for the Hebron Project (The Southern Gazette, Dec. 15, “Drilling support module leaves Marystown for Bull Arm).
The drilling support module provided a much-needed economic boost for our region, gave skilled employees an opportunity to work in their own region while earning good wages, acquiring valuable experience and having the company of their family and friends at the end of a workday.
The question is what now?
One possible opportunity is for Kiewit to explore the possibility of a partnership with Irving to assist in the construction of 21 Canadian combat ships for our federal government. Modules for the combat ships could be fully completed in Marystown, employing all trades, and transported by barge to Halifax.
Kiewit Offshore Services has one of the most modern equipped facilities and highly skilled workforces in the world and should not be closed with such a large shipbuilding contract ongoing in Halifax.
Kiewit already has a positive working relationship with Irving following the successful completion of a $117 million contract to engineer, procure and construct the terminal jetty for the Canaport liquefied natural gas terminal located at St. John, N.B. Modules for that contract were completed and transported by barge to New Brunswick.
Does Kiewit want to explore such a partnership? If not, then is Kiewit willing to lease or sell their facilities in Marystown to Irving to assist in the completion of this multiyear contract?
My dream to see the parking lots at the Kiewit facilities in Marystown full to capacity and to see parents and their children working at the facilities did come true during the construction of the drilling support module for the Hebron Project.
Can that pleasant dream remain a reality?
Everett Farwell is chairman of the Burin Peninsula Joint Town Council and a councillor with the Town of Burin. He is also a retired employee with Kiewit Offshore Services.