After a five-year hiatus, naval ships are able to return to CFB Esquimalt’s drydock for repairs and paint jobs.
HMCS Algonquin recently emerged after 11 days from the base’s only drydock.
It is the first ship to use the drydock facility since HMCS Victoria, a Canadian submarine stationed at CFB Esquimalt, returned to the water in April after an extensive overhaul.
Despite the time-consuming job, a waiting list of ships requiring the drydock did not materialize.
“What probably hurt the most was we sometimes do work on some of the more auxiliary, the smaller (vessels) around here that we would use the drydock for, and those basically got contracted out,” said Phil McEvoy, production manager of the base fleet maintenance facility.
Most minor repairs are done while ships are moored, or their worn parts are taken to the shop for servicing, he said. In addition, major ship refits are contracted out and done elsewhere, freeing up the drydock and fleet tradespeople.
“I’ve been here (31) years and I’ve seen the drydock (empty) for two or three years at a time without having any need to use it, which is always a good thing,” said McEvoy. “Lucky, over those five years, we had no major issues with the fleet. “
The drydock will continue to be used by the navy’s fleet of ships and submarines.
“We have two submarines (HMCS Victoria and HMCS Corner Brook) on the coast (at the base), so we always want to have an opportunity to emergency drydock them.”
The drydock caisson or gate will also need to be serviced in the near future by fleet maintenance workers or contractors, said McEvoy, adding that won’t interfere with the repair schedule since there is a spare gate to fall back on.