Volume 16 | Issue 6 | Year 2013

For the industries it serves, Davie Canada Shipyard is the perfect partner. The company boasts a broad range of products and services, and its high-capacity fabrication capabilities provide answers to complex problems via carefully crafted and engineered solutions.
Turnkey approach is a key to success. So is the company’s strategic location. “It’s located in Quebec City,” says Alex Vicefield, who provides an omniscient perspective, as he is CEO of the parent company, ZM Industries.

The ZM connection is of recent origin (more about that later). Meanwhile, the location is in a “sweet spot” of northeastern shipping activities. It takes advantage of this geographic position – which provides it a strong market position – by providing a haven where company owners can witness construction, conversion, reparation and upgrading of the many forms of vessels that promote commerce. We’re talking about things that float off shore or are stationed near shore. This takes in tankers, bulk carriers, containerships, fishing vessels, navy vessel and, according to the company, jackup and semi-submersible drilling and production platforms.

All along, the company remains ever true to its aim. “While Davie Canada Shipyard has been able to diversify into several industries, its main target remains the oil and gas sector, for which we build the highest quality vessels and rigs,” says Vicefield. “The second biggest market is naval, and that involves new construction bolstered by repair and ongoing service. Third, we’re actively engaged in the passenger vessel market, which means a focus on vessels such as ferries and cruise ships, among others, and also involves construction and repair.”

Captained By A Seafarer
The company’s roots date back nearly two centuries. It was established in 1825 as Davie Yards Inc. by Captain Allison Davie. In the early days, his burgeoning company produced vessels such as steamboats.

As the enterprise evolved, sand, water, and soil filled the soles – and souls – of those who walked in Capt. Davie’s shoes. Those that merchanted the innovative marine tradition would bring talents ashore into new territories. Indeed, the company became a land-and-sea operation. For sure, naval vessels and diesel-electric oilfield service vessels became part of the company legacy (or should we say argosy?). But the company diversified, thanks to its demonstrated, wide-ranging capabilities. Through the years, the Davie organization has diversified to envision – and develop and manufacture – a range of other products that service land-based operations in the train, hydro-electric, and nuclear power industries.

But whatever changes came about, this company has always been an integral part of Canada’s naval and commercial shipping history.

“Today Davie Canada Shipyard is not just the largest shipbuilding company in Canada,” says Vicefield. “It’s it’s probably the third largest in North America.”

In November 2012, the company was acquired by ZM Industries, a UK-based provider of oilfield service vessel solutions. The previous owner was Upper Lakes Group Inc. ZM brought to the company a global network operating in the oilfield services market – as well as an impressive track record of successful management of vessel and construction projects. The acquisition also provided Davie with industry leading partners – including major marine equipment suppliers, engineering companies, and technical service providers – that support the shipyard in its many activities.

Upper Lakes Group Inc. decided to sell the shipyard following the termination of its joint-venture with SNC Lavalin, who was bidding for two federal contracts during 2011. Davie will continue to bid for future government contracts, such as the upcoming tenders for 26 new build plans for the Canadian Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Strategically located on the St. Lawrence River, the shipyard boasts its own track record of success. Its construction history includes a series of new build jack-up drilling rigs for Petrobras as well as the renovation of semi-submersible rigs for the same client. Other successful offshore projects involve the conversion of the Helix Express into a pipe lay vessel. Davie has been the largest builder of warships for the Royal Canadian Navy.

Broadened Focus
As the Davie enterprise evolved (like one of those species that crawled from the primordial sea and developed feet and legs on shore), the company’s markets extended beyond shipbuilding to include customers in the oil and gas, defense, power, and transport areas.

Specific focus areas include:

  • Offshore – Davie has served the offshore industry since 1969 and has been involved with many construction, fabrication and upgrade projects. According to the company, these have included most asset-classes involved in shallow and deep-water exploration and production. The company’s current build program includes five large, dynamically positioned, highly specialized vessels for the oilfield services market.
  • The Arctic Region – Davie has a long history of success in building for the harshest environments. Consider the Arctic region, where the company has demonstrated expertise in the construction of ice-class vessels for prevailing conditions, with robust systems capable of withstanding harsh weather environments and excessive ice loads. In the Arctic region, Davie’s activities extend to oilfields and ice breaker construction that should help open the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route, which could reduce shipping time between Europe and Asia.
  • Naval – Davie is a leading contractor to the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Davie has been involved in nine Canadian Navy and a number of Coast Guard programs involving the construction, upgrading and in-service support of a variety of classes including destroyers, minesweepers, corvettes, frigates, auxiliary vessels and icebreakers. Davie, a naval center of excellence, also develops and manufactures fully missionized vessels for major navies across the world.
  • Passenger – Davie is a leader in the construction and upgrade of passenger vessels, from cruise ships to day-ferries. The company has more than 150 years’ experience in building vessels for the passenger market and is recognized for its capabilities in the construction of unique designs and characteristics, including such elements as bow-loading door systems and ice-classing. In 2013, Davie built one of the world’s first ever dual-fuel LNG day ferries. In addition, Davie provides major refit, repair and upgrade service for passenger vessels. Davie’s capabilities as a fully-integrated shipbuilder means that it offers a wide range of services for repair and refitting, such as carpentry, electrical systems installation, etc.
  • Conversions and upgrades – In meeting marketplace demands, as well as new regulations, Davie developed extensive experience in the conversion and major upgrade of a variety of vessels ranging from bulk carriers to DP pipe lay vessels.
  • Fabrication – With its prime location and high capacity for large and complex fabrication projects, Davie can serve customers from South America to Europe. Not only able to manufacture large and complex steel structures, Davie can provide end-to-end, engineered solutions for a variety of onshore and offshore industries.

Davie is a fully integrated shipbuilder with vast ship-handling and building capacities and cutting-edge fabrication facilities. Unlike many specialized shipbuilders, Davie is fully self-sufficient and capable of building a vessel from design to sea-trials without the use of any third-party facilities or sub-contractors beyond major equipment suppliers, according to the company.

Davie boasts the largest dry-dock in Canada (at 348m long) as well as a second 182m dry-dock. Both can be used for vessel construction, repair, conversion and upgrade. For new build constructions, Davie has four slipways ranging from 200m to 250m with one covered slipway. Davie also has over 2km of quays ranging from 91m to 259m in length for work alongside.

For fabrication, Davie has a 24,500m2 steel production line that comprises a panel and stiffener line, and it also has 2D and 3D fabrication lines that can produce more than 800 tons of pre-outfitted steel structures per month.

Further, within Davie are a number of dedicated departments and facilities for design, electrical installation, piping, machining, carpentry, etc. These departments ensure that Davie is entirely self-sufficient. Also, Davie has an on-site complex of fully-automated heated warehousing facilities for the storage of large equipment and components.

Davie’s Operational Management System (OMS) ensures that the policies and procedures of the company are adhered to at every level and within every function. The OMS allows for continuity and best practices in every aspect of the facility’s operation, from integrated IT systems to quality control, testing, certification, human resource management and continuous improvement process.

Davie’s remarkable growth is underscored by its ever-expanding employee roster. “We are recruiting between 30 and 50 people a week. Right now, we have 500-full-time employees. We’re targeting for 1,000 by the fourth quarter of 2013,” says Vicefield.

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