Home > About Us > Our History

Our History

Our History

Building strength and depth

Over fifty years, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. (ISI) has built one of the most powerful combinations of shipbuilding, ship repair and fabrication expertise in Canada and the eastern seaboard of North America.

In 1959, Mr. K. C. Irving purchased Irving Shipbuilding Inc., then known as the Saint John Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, a shipyard celebrated for building the largest dry dock in the world in the 1920’s.

Saint John Shipbuilding was the flagship of a collection of eastern Canadian shipyards, building oil tankers, freighters, cargo vessels and passenger ferries.

By far the largest contract placed with the Saint John shipyard, and the largest single shipbuilding order ever issued in Canadian history, was for the Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate program, which saw nine warships built at Saint John during the early 1990s.

In the 1990’s, the East Isle Shipyard in Prince Edward Island was purchased from the provincial government and used to construct modules for the Halifax-class frigates. In addition, Irving Shipbuilding purchased shipyards in Shelburne and Pictou, as well as Halifax Shipyards.

With a rich history, Halifax Shipyard Limited began operation in 1918 and has been described as a “great institution of enterprise and industry.” Between 1918 and 1978, no other industry in the City of Halifax contributed so greatly to the economy, both locally and provincially.

Halifax Shipyard was the successor of the Halifax Graving Dock Company, which began operation in Halifax in 1889. Steel hulled shipbuilding started in Halifax during the first Great War in 1918.

Since the purchase of Halifax Shipyard, Irving Shipbuilding Inc made significant investments in upgrading the facility.

Highly successful accomplishments include the construction of the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDV), delivered the vessels ahead of schedule and Anchor Handling Tugs Supply vessels, considered to be among the most sophisticated vessels in the world.

In 2001, ISI bought Banc Metals, on the Atlantic Ocean side of the MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, to facilitate the largest offshore rig, the “Eirik Raude”. Now called Woodside Industries, the facility has 11,000 sq. m of covered fabrication and storage space.

In 2011, the historic National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) was undertaken by the Canadian Government, seeking to identify two shipbuilding Centres of Excellence for the country for the next 30 years. Irving Shipbuilding was extremely proud to have been selected by the Canadian Government to build the Royal Canadian Navy's new combat fleet, a program that comprises 21 vessels and $25 billion over a period of 30 years.

Today, ISI is comprised of four shipbuilding, repair and fabrication facilities – all committed to the company values of Integrity, Customer Service and Pride. Together, we make up Eastern Canada’s most extensive array of docks, slipways, steel fabrication shops, outfit and machine shops and blast and paint facilities.

We’ve built internationally acclaimed vessels and our commitment to health, safety and environmental excellence is recognized as being world class.

We’re proud of our work and remain committed to delivering your projects on time and on budget.

Irving Shipbuilding -- Your first call for east coast shipbuilding, conversion, fabrication and repair – (902-423-9271)


Irving Shipbuilding - Integrity, Customer Service and Pride propel every project we undertake.