(HALIFAX, Nova Scotia) — Construction of the Royal Canadian Navy’s new Arctic and offshore patrol ships (AOPS) and maintenance of its frigates has been temporarily halted because of the novel coronavirus, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
“We are immediately suspending industrial activities at Halifax Shipyard, Marine Fabricators, and Woodside Industries related to the AOPS construction program and the Halifax-class in-service maintenance program,” wrote Irving Shipbuilding President Kevin McCoy in a message Thursday to unionized employees. “The decision became necessary given the high density of the employee population in certain work areas, high absenteeism, and reduced critical vendor support in materials and services.”
The suspension will be in place for certain unionized employees for the next three weeks but may be reduced or extended as circumstances change, McCoy noted. Irving will review its decision on a week-by-week basis to assess the latest information about COVID-19.
McCoy stated that the decision was made with consultation with the Canadian government. Public Services and Procurement Canada did not answer questions about how the shutdown will affect the AOPS and other naval programs. It instead sent government talking points about health safety during the COVID-19 outbreak. It also noted it was in contact with Irving and was continuing to monitor the situation.
Irving’s unionized employees will be paid for the week of March 23. Union employees are required to return tools and equipment and collect any personal belongings prior to leaving the work site. Irving will not be covering unionized employees salaries after March 23.
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