Campbell River boatbuilder wins Vancouver port contract to build new vessels

This is what Port Metro Vancouver’s two new patrol boats will look like. - Drawing courtesy Daigle Welding and Marine
This is what Port Metro Vancouver’s two new patrol boats will look like.
— image credit: Drawing courtesy Daigle Welding and Marine

Seems Daigle Welding and Marine is the boat builder of choice for B.C.’s ports.

The Campbell River firm designed and built two custom multi-task vessels for the Port of Nanaimo and now it is building two more for Port Metro Vancouver.

“It’s great news,” said owner Steve Daigle.

After months of secrecy – the boats are already half-built – news of the contract award was finally released Monday.

Daigle and his team designed and are building two 43-foot aluminum patrol vessels for Port Metro Vancouver whose officials were duly impressed by the two smaller patrol boats the company designed and built for the Nanaimo Port Authority. Daigle also built a 33-foot patrol boat for Vancouver police.

“They’re quite different,” Daigle said of the vessel designs for the two ports. “The interesting thing about ports is the federal government allows them to make purchasing decisions.”

Port authorities, because they generate their own revenue, can put out their own project tenders. In this case, the biggest and busiest port in the country asked for design-and-build proposals and Daigle was well-equipped to to meet both needs.

“They don’t have to spend a lot of money going to a naval architect because we can do it in-house,” Daigle told the Mirror. “We have proven hulls and use proven engines. They want the safety element.”

Vancouver port officials also tripped across the Strait of Georgia to get a first-hand look at the Daigle vessels built for the Nanaimo Port Authority in 2011-’12: the 32-foot NPA Eagle and the 39-foot NPA Osprey.

“All their key operators tested the boats…they were happy,” said Daigle.

Nanaimo port official Edward Dahlgreen was also pleased by their purchase, as he told the media in 2012, “Having a local builder produce a product of this calibre is a testament to the skills and innovation of the West Coast boat building industry.”

Further details of the Daigle contract award will be made at noon Friday, during a press conference co-hosted by the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce at the Royal Coachman Neighbourhood Pub.

For now, Daigle and his staff of 24 are busy working on the port authority’s two vessels which are expected to be delivered in May. The company is also currently building four other new boats and repairing a few more.

Business is picking up again for the firm which expanded to its present location just north of the Campbell River bridge and then suffered with the rest of the business world during the recession of 2009.

“Up until then, 70 per cent of our business was building pleasure boats for Americans. We got hit hard, but things have turned around. It still isn’t what it once was, but it’s building again. That’s good,” said Daigle.

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