Take a drive down Lakeshore Road towards Lock One on the Welland Canal, and you will be greeted by sight not seen since in many years. This year, Heddle Shipyards secured not one but two dry docking projects for the winter of 2020. We are honoured and excited to be docking the M/V Kaministiqua for RAND Logistics and the Rt.Hon. Paul J. Martin for Canada Steamship Lines.
When Heddle Shipyards took over the Port Weller Dry Docks in 2017, the shipyard was a shadow of its former self. Although the dry docks were in good condition, the fabrication shops had been stripped of equipment and pipes had burst, causing flooding and other damage. From day one, Heddle Shipyards set out not only to build and repair ships but also repair a shipyard.
After three years and many successful projects (over 20 to date) and significant capital expenditures, the Port Weller Dry Docks is starting to resemble its former self. Over the past decades, it wasn’t uncommon to see four or five ships every winter in and out of the Dry Docks. While we have a substantial amount of work to accomplish on the facility to get back to the glory days, this winter marks a significant achievement in the growth of Port Weller and the Heddle Shipyards as a company.
“Our goal was to secure one major project for this winter, and we exceeded that.” said President Shaun Padulo, “our goal was and is to grow sustainably, and through the hard work of our entire group, we were able to exceed our goal. There are many long hard days ahead of us before the opening of the Seaway and re-delivery of the vessels, but we need to take time to reflect on what we have achieved in a relatively short period of time.”
This winter, the Port Weller Dry Docks will hit and most likely exceed the one hundred and fifty employee mark for this first time since taking over in 2017. If this year is any indication of things to come, the future of the Port Weller Dry Docks is bright, and we hope to one day again see the volume of ship repair activity the city of St. Catharine’s was accustom to seeing. More than that, we are continuing to position the yard as a shipbuilding facility so that we can work with the Government of Canada to develop solutions for the National Shipbuilding Strategy. “It isn’t a matter of if we will build vessels again in Port Weller, it is a matter of when.”