The historic Davie Shipyard in Lévis, Que., broke out the champagne Friday for the Cecon Pride, the first ship fully built in the yard in years.

The Cecon Pride is the first in a series of three large offshore construction vessels being built for Norwegian offshore installation contractor Cecon ASA. The ship, the largest built in Canada in 20 years according to the company, floated in dry dock Oct. 19 ahead of its naming ceremony Friday. 

"This is a great day for Davie. There are only a handful of shipyards across the globe, mainly in Europe, capable of building a vessel to this specification and with this level of technology," said Davie CEO Alan Bowen.

"Our high quality vessel construction capabilities and low cost base means we are the only North American shipbuilder competing internationally, exporting vessels to European shipowners; something Davie has done for over a century."  

It was the 717th ship built at the yard. The 130-metre vessel soon will begin sea trials prior to final delivery to the client in February 2014.

"It's used for multi-purpose applications. From pipe laying to subsea construction, to deep sea well intervention, it's really about deep sea,” said Alex Vicefield, chairman of the shipyard.

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The Davie shipyard in Levis, Que., is shown in November 2012 after being taken over by Zafiro Marine. The shipyard will launch the Cecon Pride today. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Since being bought by Zafiro Marine of  Britain last year, the Davie Shipyard has recalled 500 workers. The potential for offshore oil and gas development and the ships to support construction, means more opportunities.

Up until the new owners took over, Davie spent years in troubled waters. Since being sold by Canada Steamship in 1976, it has been in and out of bankruptcy.

In 2010, it was under creditor protection. Davie had ended operations, putting nearly 1,600 people out of work.

There was hope in 2011 when a consortium involving SNC-Lavalin, Upper Lakes Groups Inc. and South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering took on restructuring of the yard in order to bid on ships being built for the Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Forces.  

In the end, the federal government did not choose Davie Shipyard to build any ships and the joint venture fell apart, leaving Upper Lakes as the sole owner.

Zafiro Marine, which manages and operates a fleet of specialized offshore vessels involved in topside and subsea construction, took over in November 2012.

While work on new Canadian warships went to the Irving Shipyards in Halifax and Seaspan in Vancouver, Davie is considering bidding on  smaller government contracts.

"It's very difficult to ignore Davie in this situation. As I said, Davie is a significantly larger shipyard with a much higher capacity than the other shipyards," Vicefield said.

With files from Sean Henry