Canadian Defence Review


August 2, 2012


Title: Wartsila sets to expand Canadian presence

Sub-title: Naval propulsion systems experts hope to contribute to NSPS initiatives.


Canada’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is moving forward slowly but surely. Announcement of the two yards that will anchor construction of the $30 billion worth of ships (Irving Shipbuilding and Vancouver Shipyards) that will hit the waters during the coming two to three decades has sub-contractors angling to get in on the action.


One of these is Wartsila Canada, whose president Mark Keneford believes it can fill a key role. “We provide marine solutions, power plants and services and support,” says Keneford. “But we believe we can add particular value in supplying propulsion technologies and related solutions on the environmental front to NSPS vessels.”


Keneford, should know. Prior to joining Wartsila Canada he had a long career in the Canadian navy, where he started as marine engineering mechanic more than 27 years ago. He rose rapidly through the ranks, culminating as a marine systems engineering officer on HMCS Halifax, and continues to serve in the naval reserve’s HMCS Donnacona unit. “Having been there for so long gave me an innate feel for naval user requirements,” says Keneford. “This in turn provided a substantial leg up in my role as senior ship power sales account manager for North American government clients.”


Complete equipment and life-time support packages

That role is a crucial one. Wartsila Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of Finland-based Wartsila Corporation is the flagship operation for its parent company’s efforts to expand its Canadian footprint and the stakes are thus high. Keneford’s strategy in this respect is simple. “We focus on offering value in our key competencies,” says Keneford. “In today’s naval ships, which need to “float, move and fight,” – we focus on the “move” part.”


“Our goal is to optimize our clients’ lifetime service expenditures so they maximize value for each dollar spent,” continues Keneford. “To do that we design and propose a superior package of equipment, and technology, coupled with a long-term life-cycle support plan, while working with local shipyards, governments and partner with major players to maximize Canadian content on bids.”



Propulsion equipment offerings consist of everything from “engine to propeller,” says Keneford, including propulsors, seals & bearings, power management, automation and control solutions. These are all integrated into the vessel design to maximize performance, fuel efficiency and minimize the environmental impact. The company is particularly strong in its propulsion maneuvering and sealing solutions, providing a range of equipment that includes: CP and FP propellors, Coastal and Inland Propulsion Systems (CIPS) rudders, transverse thrusters, nozzles, gears, waterjets and related equipment.


“When it comes to propulsion systems, everything starts with the interaction between the hull and the propulsers,” explains Keneford. “For example you can generate significant savings if optimize the propeller design and match it with the prime movers. To do that you need a real partnership between the shipyard and the propulsion provider with each focusing on their core competencies, yet at the same time maintaining effective communications throughout the process.”


Wartsila in Canada

Wartsila Canadian operation’s presence, 85 percent of which is focused on marine sector initiatives, goes back decades. The company, which incorporated in 1991, made its presence felt almost immediately, when it quickly embarked on a series of acquisitions of a series of smaller, well-established payers. These included the acquisition of LIPS Propulsion Systems, which supplied propulsion systems to Canada’s Marine Coastal Defence Vehicles through a subcontract with SNC Lavalin.  The purchase of CGL Industries and engine supplier SACM Diesels soon followed. The trend continued in the following decade when in 2005, Wartsila bought out Deutz Marine, which provided generator sets to the Halifax Class Frigates.


The acquisitions provided Wartsila with substantial local on-the-ground capabilities and access to a deep talent pool of technological expertise. It also provided a solid toehold in Canada’s naval sector, with opportunities to supply everything from stern and bulkhead seals to the Halifax Class Frigates, to service and support for the Victoria Class Submarines (through a contract with Babcock Canada).

Wartsila’s on-going service work on the legacy craft also provide it with a good base of clients and contacts and an excellent window into sector demands and trends. Today, the company’s 145 professionals service customers in the marine, power plants, industrial and mining sectors from five strategic locations across Canada.

Strategic locations

These include Vancouver (Richmond), Victoria, Montreal, Halifax (Dartmouth), and St. John’s. Vancouver in particular plays a key role, acting both as the company’s head office and center of excellence for American reconditioning services capabilities, notably large engine components. The Montreal shop focuses on engine overhaul, notably those of the Halifax Class Frigates, a half-dozen or so of which it handles each year. The St. John’s locale for its part focuses on Coast Guard and off-shore fisheries work.


That said, according to Keneford, each location is capable of handling Wartsila OEM engine workshop services as well as non-OEM engine repair and overhaul. “We provide 24/7 customer service,” says Keneford proudly. “As a full service provider with a wide range of solutions, we can supply everything from spare parts to field service professionals, to a turnkey power plant in remote areas.”

According to Keneford, Wartsila Canada’s reconditioning services facilities are ABS type approved to handle diesel engine remanufactured parts. The company is also registered with Lloyds and certified for its chrome plating of machinery components and its Montreal workshop is a center of excellence for Deutz marine engine services in the Americas region. Wartsila Canada is also a controlled goods and employment equity certified company and has completed ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 registration requirements. In short, these substantial capabilities in conjunction with support from the company’s international operations, clearly position Wartsila well, to bid on future NSPS procurement mandates.

A strong international presence

In fact those international affiliations are a key reason that Keneford is so confident about the company’s potential to increase its Canadian defence sector footprint. Wartsila Canada’s parent company, which is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki stock exchange, bills itself as a “global leader in complete lifecycle power solutions for the marine and energy markets,” and boasts a substantial portfolio of defence sector achievements.


Over the years, Wartsila’s international group has done substantial marine work and has built up an impressive portfolio of references in the merchant, offshore, cruise & ferry and special vessels markets.

The company, which claims 90 countries as current naval clients, has overall tackled mandates for more than 150 navies, including those in the UK, India, Chile, Columbia, Portugual, Morocco, Egypt and many others. In fact according to Janes Fighting Ships, the company’s engines are on 704 vessels in 62 navies, its propulsors are on 476 vessels in 49 navies and its seals & bearings are on another 1,274 vessels in 73 navies. Of these, one contract, the company’s work on the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of two UK carriers which is supposed to enter active service between 2019 and 2023 (the other will be the Prince of Wales), stand out. Wartsila will supply two 12-cylinder and two 16-cylinder Wartsila 38 engines, which will be the ship’s prime movers. According to the company’s promotional literature, these are expected to supply fully 40 MW of the total 100MW of power that will be installed.


Support from France

Key to the international organization’s overall success is its emphasis on continuous technological innovation and the quest for total efficiency. The goal is always the same: to maximize the environmental and economic performance of clients’ vessels and power plants. According to Keneford those values pervade the Canadian organization as well.


One of Wartsila’s most important international defence and naval sector centers of excellent is its Nantes France-based Naval Engineering Support and Project Management unit. The team, which is backed up by a global range of factories, design engineers and service support networks, has crucial experience in managing the design and manufacturing of propulsion packages and delivering turnkey solutions for naval and coast guard clients.


Large contracts are worked on at a variety of Wartsila units, but overseen by a dedicated project manger who controls the entire process from drawing to customer handover. “They have a very high level of expertise,” says Keneford. “That includes capabilities in ensuring seamless electrical and mechanical interfaces between all Wartsila products including engine controls, gearbox, CPP automation and so on.”


The road ahead

That said, the precise road ahead for Wartsila’s Canadian expansion moves remains unclear somewhat, that is in part due to the fate of NSPS itself. On paper opportunities look impressive. Company officials believe that they can add value to the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel, the Canadian Surface Combattant, the Joint Support Ships, the fisheries and the science vessels and others. Yet according to Keneford Wartsila will pursue each project individually as they come on-stream and add value as demand warrants. In fact Wartsila has already provided input into pre-planning and design phases on several NSPS initiatives. The real question is how and when individual projects will get out of the gate.


Yet despite Wartsila’s impressive international and Canadian presences, Keneford remains adamant that its greatest asset is the values and corporate culture that underlie the organization. “We make sure that all solutions that we propose are characterized by high reliability and low maintenance costs, modular constructions with reduced parts counts and feature ergonomic interfaces with extended time between engine overhauls,” says Keneford. “Because there is no substitute for a satisfied customer….and once we have one, we like to keep them.”



Name: Wartsila Canada

Key contacts: Mark Keneford

Products: Power plants, marine solutions, reconditioning services

Phone: 514-335-3150


Locations: Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria, Halifax, St. John’s, plus support from sites in France, Netherlands and the UK

Number of employees: 145 (Canada)




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