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Sub-detector repair space funded at CFB Esquimalt

Civilian employees at CFB Esquimalt are getting a new multi-million-dollar workspace where they can repair and maintain submarine-detection devices used by naval warships.

A $3.8-million construction contract has been awarded to Ledcor Construction in Saanich, and is expected to create 21 full-time positions. 

Work on the 1,600-square-metre Dockyard building is expected to begin this month and finish in April 2012.

“This is an important project in today’s security environment,” said Gary Lunn, Minister of State for Sport and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP, on behalf of National Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

Lunn announced the project Feb. 23 inside the existing 50-year-old building where one 267-metre-long, black, cable-like device lay stretched out on a work table. 

The future of the outdated facility has not been decided.

Regular maintenance on the sensitive sonar systems is critical for navy frigates to identify what may be lurking in the deep in case they must respond to conflict, said Capt. (N) Craig Baines, CFB Esquimalt commander. There are about 400 submarines in the world belonging to 40 nations.

The sonar instruments are towed deep in the water behind each warship on a 1,500-metre-long cable and need regular attention due to a harsh marine environment. 

“They’ve come back with shark bites,” Baines said.

The new towed array facility is one part of a $91.8-million series of new structures going up at the base to house ship repair facilities. 

It’s part of a long-term Department of National Defence objective to replace 50 per cent of the military’s aging infrastructure over the next 20 years.