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Former HMCS Protecteur towed from Esquimalt, will bring jobs to Liverpool

A decommissioned Canadian navy ship is being towed to Nova Scotia to be dismantled, work that will provide jobs in a part of the province hit by layoffs.

Former Royal Canadian Navy vessel to be dismantled following fire damage in 2014

A member of the Royal Canadian Navy watched over Protecteur before it left CFB Esquimalt Wednesday. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

A decommissioned Royal Canadian Navy ship is headed to Nova Scotia to be dismantled, bringing with it hope for jobs in a small town. 

The former HMCS Protecteur left its home base in Esquimalt, B.C., Wednesday for a journey expected to take about 55 days, depending on the weather. The ship will be towed south through the Panama Canal before heading north to Liverpool, N.S.

In January, Nova Scotia's R.J. MacIsaac Construction Ltd. won a $39 million federal contract to dismantle both the Protecteur, an auxiliary oil replenishment ship, and the former HMCS Algonquin, an Iroquois-class guided missile destroyer. 

That contract will mean jobs for a part of the province hit by layoffs in recent years, said the mayor of Queens Municipality. 

"All the buzz on the street is that people are excited," Christopher Clarke said Friday. 

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      Jobs will help

      The Bowater Mersey mill closure in 2012 threw around 320 employees in the area out of work and seriously hurt employment at related businesses nearby.

      Dismantling of a ship is rather new for an area known for shipbuilding, but this "new venture" is more than welcome, Clarke said.

      The company will likely hire between 30 and 40 people to work as welders, metal cutters "and even a cook," for employment expected to last up to two years, he said. 

      "We're excited about that because we've gone through some rough times in recent years," Clarke said. "To have some new jobs is exciting."

      Protecteur should arrive in Liverpool around the start of April, with Algonquin joining in July, he said. 

      Fire damage, bad electrical

      Protecteur had a history of mechanical problems before being taken off active duty. 

      It suffered damage from two fires in 2014, one of which its crew fought for 11 hours. That was a year after the Department of National Defence was warned the ship's electrical system was dangerous and prone to failure

      R.J. MacIsaac Construction also cleaned up the wreckage of MV Miner last fall. No one from the company was available for an interview Friday.

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