Nova Scotia

$5.7M contract to dismantle HMCS Athabaskan to be carried out in Sydney

A marine company newly based in Sydney, N.S., has been awarded a $5.7-million contract to dismantle the retired naval destroyer HMCS Athabaskan.

Ontario-based Marine Recycling Corp. set up an East Coast operation just last year

HMCS Athabaskan will arrive at Sydport in early spring. (Rob Short/CBC)

A marine company newly based in Sydney, N.S., has been awarded a $5.7-million contract to dismantle the retired naval destroyer HMCS Athabaskan.

HMCS Athabaskan — the last of four Iroquois-class destroyers from the Cold War era — was retired during a ceremony in Halifax last March after 44 years of service. 

​The contract awarded to Marine Recycling Corp. includes the towing of the ship to Sydney, demilitarization of equipment, the remediation of hazardous waste and the recycling of any remaining materials.

It is third aging Royal Canadian Navy vessel set to be dismantled by the company.

Marine Recycling Corp. has set up at Sydport, an industrial park on the waterfront in Point Edward, across the harbour from Sydney. The company is based out of an office in Port Colborne, Ont., but company founder Wayne Elliott said he has long wanted an operation on the East Coast.

"We have towed ships from the ocean — actually from Halifax, from the navy yard — in the past into Lake Erie," he said, noting it's not "the most efficient."

"[There's] the long tow and double sets of locks at Montreal and the Welland Canal," he said. "And we also recognize that there's other business that we're not efficiently able to go after to come back to Lake Erie."

Sydney a 'good base'

Elliott said there aren't many locations with the necessary space to carry out such work, calling Sydport a "good base."

"We've had our eyes on Sydport for a long time, about 18 years, and know the fellas there and some of the business owners," he said. "Finally the opportunity came up last year, when we were awarded the Preserver and the Quest from the navy and Public Works."

The company won a $12.6-million contract last August to dismantle the naval supply vessel HMCS Preserver and former research vessel CFAV Quest. Those two vessels have been at Sydport since last year.

Elliott said he's had no trouble assembling a workforce for the three jobs. Between 25 and 30 local workers have been hired, he said, with at least another 10 hires expected once the dismantling begins.

"We've got some great workers in Sydney, including some from the local native bands," he said. "We've had great experience with staff there."

HMCS Athabaskan is still docked in Halifax Harbour and is expected to be towed to Sydney in early spring. The dismantling is expected to be complete by July 2019.

With files from Information Morning Cape Breton