Joint CIMarE – SNAME all day event

It only happens once a year or so, but it is always well worth it and well attended. What is it ? Its the joint meeting of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineer (SNAME)- Northwest Branch and the Vancouver Island Branch of the Canadian Institute of Marine Engineers (CIMarE). The full day of interesting discussion held this past weekend in Victoria BC, was topped off with a guided tour of the HMCS Victoria, the Canadian navy’s newest submarine, currently undergoing a massive dry dock work period. I always look forward to these events to enlighten me of the latest topics of discussions around the business, and also to meet my peers, new and previous acquaintances, from the various corners of our industry.

The morning was focused on the arctic and its many challenges, ice notwithstanding, and the various implications that the various publicized development plans might face. Darren Williams, on behalf of Horseshoes Bay Marine Group, presented a paper on the various steps that the Canadian government is taking in the arctic, and how that relates to sovereignty claims. The next paper was about the physical challenges of the arctic and how they must be managed. The final paper of the morning was by Dan McGreer of STX Europe, who introduced us to the AOPS (Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel), a light ice breaking capable vessel destined for the Canadian navy and its arctic ambitions.

The AOPS project appears to be in the final design stages and Dan walked us thought the design of the vessel and the time line of the procurement. Amid my expressed skepticism, he assured the audience that the government appeared to be firmly committed to the project; and more importantly, had change tactics, in hopes of avoiding the many pitfalls that the usual government shipbuilding contracts fall victim to.

The afternoon was no less interesting, that’s for sure. The focus was on submarines and the scope of technology involved with these complex machines. Glen Walters of CSMG, introduced the audience to submarines and their design, with of course a particular focus on the Canadian Navy’s new HMCS Victoria.

The next presenter was Mark Wilson of the Navy, the project manager for the HMCS Victoria‘s extensive refurbishment occurring at the Cape Breton Fleet Maintenance facility at the Esquilmalt Naval Yards. 1.250 million man hours have been used up so far on the project, which is about two third completed. – just take a second and think about that figure – staggering. Mark describe the various challenges the project presented them with and tried to convey the complexity of the submarine.

Talk is talk, but like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, well I didn’t take pictures due to restrictions, but I was giddy when we were able to visit the ship in dry dock. An all access tour of the vessel to see first hand the project.

Wow ! I have been on quite a few vessel, it took about 15 or so, before I was able to quickly adapt after joining, and feel confident that I could do my job. The Victoria, I must say, I would be pretty much lost. The amount of systems and the incredibly tight spaces they place these systems in, is enough to give any reasonable engineers the shivers. A great deal of equipment was removed from the vessel but it was apparent that a minor leak somewhere on the ship, would be a dramatic and complex fix to carry out; in port, or god forbid, at sea. It was truly fascinating and certainly an enlightening experience for me.

I belive the whole day can be regarded a resounding success for the presenters and the 50 or so attendees. I would certainly encourage you to come out to the monthly meetings, held by both the SNAME and the CIMarE who have local chapters in all parts of Canada, and the USA and especially the special one day, and multi day events held by these two organizations.

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