Bluedrop Awarded $15M Contract To Design Naval Simulation Software

29 April 2016

A $15-million contract for designing naval simulation software awarded to Bluedrop Training and Simulation is just a drop in the bucket of a massive $1-billion boost for Canadian shipbuilding.

Announced Thursday at Blue-drop’s Halifax Headquarters, the training and simulation software is being designed to train sailors set to man six next-generation Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships now under construction at the Halifax Shipyard.

The training and software deal between Bluedrop, Irving Shipbuilding Inc., and Fleetway Inc. is the latest addition to the nearly $425-million in contracts and investments already awarded by Irving in Nova Scotia under Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.

“In four short years we’ve seen an industry completely revitalized. Here in Halifax we’ve invested $350 million to re-capitalize the facilities where Canada’s combatant ships are being built in North America’s largest undercover shipbuilding facility. Through Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, we were able to invest in training our proud and dedicated shipbuilders to rebuild Canada’s navy, using state-of-the-art processes and equipment. In 2015, Irving Shipbuilding recalled 325 workers who were on layoff and we hired over 250 new employees, bringing our head count today to almost 1,200 people,” said Kevin McCoy, president of Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

Atlantic Canada as a whole stands to reap major economic benefits from the shipbuilding program. As of Dec. 31 2015, a further 14 contracts were awarded to companies in New Brunswick and a further two organizations in that province have benefited from these investments. This amounts to a total of $76 million in contracts and investments awarded in New Brunswick.

In Prince Edward Island, more than $78 million has been invested, while Newfoundland has also benefited from an investment worth nearly $8.5 million, according to data posted online by Irving.

Scores of other contracts have been awarded to companies in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, making up the rest of the $1 billion in contracts and investments.

“We’ve got parts to the Arctic ships that are being built all over Canada — pumps, valves, the arresting gear for the helicopters, lifeboats, life rails,” said McCoy.

Steel plates for the ships are cut and kitted in Dartmouth and these components are put together in Halifax.

“What we’re seeing is the result of a very-well designed process to build ships here at home for the next 25-30 years,” said McCoy.

Eight extra jobs were created at Bluedrop’s Halifax office as a direct result of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, bringing its Halifax workforce to 25 employees, including specialists such as software experts and 3-D designers.

The Bluedrop team is currently developing a 3-D naval simulation system for Canadian sailors, which involves wearing a helmet or visor that provides an all-round interactive experience. Sailors can use the system to practice naval activities such as steering or gunnery in preparation for missions.

“Our state-of-the-art virtual training and simulation centre here in Halifax is the only facility of its kind in Canada and will ensure our navy has access to leading-edge training technologies to prepare and train the future fleet,” said Jean-Claude Siew, Bluedrop’s vice-president of technology and simulation.

The need for next-generation training on Arctic patrol vessels comes at the same time Canada tries to secure its Arctic borders against outside powers. China’s government has already declared its intention to ship cargo through the Northwest Passage to worldwide markets.

However, Canada claims sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, which is really a network of waterways through the Canadian Arctic islands.

Climate change melting polar icecaps is steadily opening up this key trade route, previously off limits to most shipping due to sea ice.

Stressing that he was no policy expert, McCoy nonetheless said that the six ships under construction in Nova Scotia were tailor-made for securing Canada’s Arctic waters.

“These ships are ideal for providing persistent surveillance and doing patrols up in the Arctic because of the nature of the design. They’ve got light ice-breaking capability and I think they’ll give tremendous additional capability to the Canadian Navy,” said McCoy.


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