Nova Scotia has been selected to build Canada’s next fleet of combat ships. Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has been chosen to negotiate the right to build Canada’s new combat vessel fleet, as part of the federal government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The decision was announced today, Oct. 19, in Ottawa. “Congratulations to Irving Shipbuilding and all of its employees for proving that Nova Scotia is ready to build the best ships,” said Premier Darrell Dexter. “This is a defining moment in Nova Scotia’s history. The future starts here.” “This is tremendous news!” said Jim Irving, CEO, Irving Shipbuilding. “On behalf of the men and women of Irving Shipbuilding, we are honoured to have been chosen by Canada to build the Navy’s new combat vessel fleet for those who serve and we look forward to successful negotiations in the coming months.” “To every Nova Scotian and Canadian who put up a lawn sign, put a pin on the electronic map or sent us words of encouragement, we can’t thank you enough. And to Premier Darrell Dexter, the province of Nova Scotia, and every member of the Ships Start Here partnership, you have made this a true community effort and demonstrated the power of a community with confidence, pride and a clear objective – thank you for your belief and your support.” The contract, estimated at $25 billion, will help the province turn a corner on 20 years of slow economic growth in Atlantic Canada. It will mean an additional 11,500 jobs for Nova Scotians and will increase the province’s GDP by almost $900 million during peak production years. The Canadian economy is expected to grow by $1.5 billion, and 4,500 jobs will be created outside of Nova Scotia. Speaking to Irving Shipbuilding employees, the premier said: “Your experience and skills are what clinched this victory. It will ensure an entirely new generation of shipbuilders, and a future that sees our sons and daughters stay in Nova Scotia, and those who have left come home.” The merits of Nova Scotia’s bid were clearly outlined in the Ships Start Here campaign, designed to build support across the country and awareness locally. More than 10,000 people across the country pinned messages of encouragement for Irving’s bid on the canadianshipsstarthere.ca map, and thousands of lawns were marked with Ships Start Here signs. The campaign websites received close to one million views. “Thank you to Nova Scotians, to Maritimers, and to people across Canada who saw that our bid would bring benefits across the country, who saw that our bid was truly Canada’s bid,” said Premier Dexter. The premier also thanked the leaders and organizations within the Ships Start Here partnership for their united support of Irving’s bid. The partnership, made up of 70 organizations such as Nova Scotia Community College, Greater Halifax Partnership, and the Federation of Labour, will now mobilize to ensure the province can make the most of this opportunity and meet the demand for labour. Irving Shipbuilding will enter contract negotiations with the federal government with hopes of starting shipbuilding production as early as late 2012. Halifax Shipyard has been in operation since 1889. Irving Shipbuilding has built tugs and offshore supply vessels for clients at home and around the world, as well as 80 per cent of Canada’s current surface combat fleet.