On April 25, 2024 Seaspan commemorated the three-decade milestone of its esteemed Victoria Shipyard, a pivotal hub for ship repair and modernization on the vibrant Canadian West Coast. The journey began thirty years ago, sparked by a modest 20-foot shipping container and a dedicated team of five senior managers. Their mission: to resurrect a bustling shipyard. Fast forward to today, Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards stands tall, boasting a workforce of 800 skilled individuals. It stands not only as a cornerstone of the regional economy but also as a beacon of trust for government and commercial fleets across Canada and beyond, renowned for its prowess in handling intricate repair, refit, and conversion projects.

“Our workforce is the heart of our business and will always be the root of our success. Together, we stand on the values and culture that was built 30 years ago: we continue to focus on customer relationships, quality work, timely delivery, and continuous improvement. It’s a winning formula and how we have set the gold standard in ship repair on the West Coast,” said Tony Winter, General Manager and Vice President of Seaspan Victoria Shipyards. “It is an honour to carry on the legacy of this shipyard and celebrate how far we have come — from our humble beginnings to one of Victoria’s major private sector employers.”

Jim Leech.

Beyond the gleam of success lies a deeper narrative of familial ties and generational dedication. The Leech family epitomizes this legacy. Gene Leech, now serving as Dock Master, leads the charge in safely guiding each vessel into drydock. His son, Ben Leech, follows suit, assuming the role of Senior Chargehand pipefitter. Yet, their saga doesn’t unfold solely in the present; it is woven through time. The roots of the Leech family’s connection to the shipyard stretch back to the 1920s when Gene’s grandfather laid the foundation of the drydock. Jim Leech, Gene’s father, spent 49 years as a machinist in the drydock, retiring in 2001, the same year Gene ascended to the role of Dock Master.

Gene and Ben Leech.

Seaspan Victoria Shipyards serves as a significant contributor to the local economic landscape. A recent socio-economic study conducted by Deloitte reveals staggering figures: $1.72 billion injected into Canada’s GDP over the past 12 years, coupled with a labor income totaling $1.27 billion and a gross output of $2.85 billion.

Nestled within the Government of Canada-owned Esquimalt Graving Dock, the largest solid-bottom commercial drydock on the West Coast of the Americas, Seaspan Victoria Shipyards has etched its mark on history. Over the span of three decades, 477 vessels, spanning from Royal Canadian Navy vessels to cruise ships, ferries, foreign navy vessels, and more, have found solace within its confines. It serves as an indispensable cog in the machinery of the Royal Canadian Navy’s frigate and submarine maintenance programs, offering specialized expertise in the upkeep of Halifax-class frigates and the in-service support of Victoria-class submarines.

Disney Wonder at Seaspan Victoria Shipyards. Taken by Heath Moffatt September 21, 2023.

While the shipyard has evolved to embrace innovation, technology, and increased automation to support its workforce, it will always be people who repair ships. “Seaspan Victoria Shipyards will always be a people-centric business,” said Tony Winter.