Port Weller Dry Docks Plans Shipyard On Lake Erie To Build And Repair Large Ships

Details of plans for a shipyard facility on Lake Erie to build and repair ships up to 1,100 feet (335 meters) in length have been announced by Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

The plans, which require both provincial and federal government assistance, are under discussion with the appropriate ministries of both governments.

Until such a facility is built, Canadian shipyards in the Upper Great Lakes are restricted to vessels 730 feet (222.5 meters) in length by the size of the locks of the Welland Canal.

For the past several years, American shipyards have been building 1,000-foot ships, some of which are now in service, with the result that Canadian shipping is at a competitive disadvantage.

Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. of Toronto, of which Port Weller Dry Docks is a division, are interested in ordering larger ships than those now being built at Canadian Great Lakes yards. They are more efficient because of their greatly increased cargo capacity, while utilizing the same size of crew, and with only a small increase in fuel consumption.

A new site will be chosen that is reasonably close to the new industrial complex now nearing completion at Nanticoke. Nanticoke plants, which use large quantities of bulk cargo, include The Steel Company of Canada, Texaco Canada, and Ontario Hydro.

There are obvious advantages to having a repair yard located close by where ships may be drydocked after discharging their cargoes.

The new facility will include a marine elevating platform which will extend 1,100 feet into the lake at right angle to the shoreline.

No elevating platform this size has yet been built, but there are no insurmountable engineering problems involved. It is estimated that the dock will cost $30,000,000 aside from the cost of land and shore facilities.

The proposal calls for ships' sections to be built at Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines, and towed through the Welland Canal to the Lake Erie site, where they will be joined together. While new ship construction is underway, ship repairs and ship scrapping may be carried on simultaneously at the Lake Erie site.

Detailed studies and planning will be done by Swan Wooster Engineering Ltd. of Vancouver and St. Catharines, who prepared the initial plan.

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