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The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard has won the contract to build 21 navy ships. (CBC)

Halifax has won a major contract to build ships for Canada's navy, but now the work begins to hammer out the details.

Irving Shipbuilding, which owns the Halifax Shipyard, is set to begin negotiations with the federal government on a contract worth an estimated $25 billion.

"On a contract this size, worth this size, that's a large task," said company CEO Jim Irving told CBC on Thursday.

"But we've done this before with the federal government and there's been a certain amount of preparatory work done on that."

Irving Shipbuilding is supposed to build 21 vessels for the navy, including destroyers, frigates and Arctic offshore patrol ships, over 30 years.

Details about the size and specifications of those ships, along with a rollout schedule, have yet to be worked out. The federal government says they'll start with the patrol ships.

'That kind of corporate manoeuvering on Irving's part hasn't even started yet'— Ken Hansen, analyst

Ken Hansen, a research fellow at Dalhousie University's Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, expects a tussle over the ship details and possibly which type of vessel to build first.

He said the conceptual design for the Arctic patrol ship is already done.

"The government's people inside the navy are gonna take that and say, 'This is what we want built.' And Irving will look at that and say, 'interesting," and then they'll start looking at what's inside these plans," said Hansen.

"If they can't do it for the specified dollar value, they're gonna start quickly looking around for other suppliers to try and cut down the cost of all the little components that go into it.

Spotted

Your comments on the coveted shipbuilding bid:

  • "The best teams won. Now get to work on this WAY overdue project," wrote Roger Kirkpatrick, on the CBC News Facebook page.
  • "I live in Halifax! Where do I apply?" asked hishighness420.

Read more of your comments on our Community blog.

"That kind of corporate manoeuvering on Irving's part hasn't even started yet."

Contract negotiations are expected to take months. However, it could take up to two years to complete the entire process.

Irving said he expects it will be sometime in 2013 before workers are "cutting steel," the point when the ships begin to take shape.

In the meantime, he said the company needs to get the shipyard ready.

Irving Shipbuilding has already spent about $60 million to upgrade its Halifax yard. The company also got a loan from the Nova Scotia government for $20 million.