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World Oceans Day - Protecting Our Home


June 8 marks World Oceans Day. Recognized by the United Nations and other international bodies, this day highlights the role of the oceans in everyday life and the need to protect marine habitats. Two J.D. Irving, Limited businesses operate at-sea – Irving Shipbuilding and Atlantic Towing. Together, they strive to contribute to the global body of knowledge by supporting research and conservation efforts, looking to greener technologies and advocating for the marine environments where we live and work.


Voluntary conservation of marine habitats with partners like the Nature Conservancy are also part of our work.  


The Irving Nature Park in Saint John was created to protect help protect unique coastal ecosystems as well as providing environmental education and recreation opportunities to the public. Within the protected area lies a major salt marsh (approx. 250 acres). A salt marsh is a type of marsh that is transitional and intertidal between land and salty, brackish water.  It is dominated by salt tolerant plants. Historically, salt marshes have sometimes been treated as “wastelands”, along with other wetlands. However, salt marshes are one of the most biologically productive habitats on the planet, rivalling tropical rain forests. They provide nursery habitat for almost 90% of our coastal fish species & rival forests in their ability to convert CO2 to oxygen. Salt marshes are truly an integral link to ocean ecosystems as much of the food consumed at sea begins its life in a salt marsh.  J.D. Irving, Limited has protected this area and worked with the Nature Conservancy to protect the Musquash salt marsh in New Brunswick.  

 INP Marshes


The Atlantic Condor Doubles as Research Vessel, Contributing to Emerging Environmental Initiatives


Atlantic Towing Limited has partnered with researchers at Dalhousie University to install sensors on one of its Offshore Support Vessels that enable the ship to collect observations from continental shelf waters on Canada's East Coast. This program advances both the Voluntary Observer Ships (VOS) Program and the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network initiative - both spearheaded by Dalhousie researchers with funding support from Irving Shipbuilding.


The sensors actively monitor ocean conditions, measuring temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gasses. In addition, the vessel has been outfitted with a holographic microscope for identifying plankton and acoustic transponders for measuring ocean current velocities.


On-board atmospheric measurements yield new insights into climate change and marine visibility research. This partnership is incredibly valuable to researchers because customized, designated research vessels are costly to build and operate. By leveraging a commercial vessel that regularly sails through regions of interest to the research team - in this case, the Scotian Shelf - the desired data becomes available.

 Atlantic Condor


A Leader Among Marine Service Providers


Atlantic Towing is a Green Marine certified organization, and has maintained this accreditation since 2008. Green Marine is a voluntary, transparent and inclusive program encompassing ship owners, ports, seaways, terminals and shipyards across North America. To qualify, organizations benchmark their annual performance against 12 key environmental indicators. These include greenhouse gas emissions, environmental leadership, community impact, and underwater noise, among others. Over the 12 years since becoming a Green Marine organization, ATL has increased its efforts to drive environmental performance, specifically relating to marine wildlife awareness and reducing underwater noise. A Marine Mammal Management Program is currently in development.


In addition, ATL meets the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 14001 and 45001, voluntary standards that specify requirements and a framework for an effective environmental management system.

 Atlantic Towing Open Water


A Message from Atlantic Towing’s Vice President and General Manager: Gilles Gagnon


Next year Atlantic Towing will celebrate its 60th year of operations. As we look forward to what will determine our success for the next 60 years, the most important focus now is the digitization of our operations which will improve all aspects of how we run, such as energy management and operational profiles which will result in a lower carbon footprint. 


We are excited this year, as we prepare to take delivery of Canada’s first battery hybrid Platform Supply Vessel (PSV). The Atlantic Harrier, due to join our offshore fleet later this year, is an 89-metre, high capacity PSV, featuring a deadweight of more than 4,000 tonnes, and a 1,000 m2 working deck. This vessel represents a step change in fuel efficiency, as the vessel is equipped with both high-speed marine diesel engines, and a high capacity Lithium Ion battery bank. This battery bank allows us to reduce the number of engines needed in offshore operations, leading to dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

 Atlantic Herrier


Thordon Bearings keeps AOPS propellers spinning with environmentally safe bearings


As Canada’s Shipbuilder, Irving Shipbuilding keeps environmental considerations at the forefront, working with a number of partners to ensure the power produced by Canada’s new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) will move the vessels in an efficient, reliable and environmentally safe manner.


Thordon Bearings, an Ontario-based designer and manufacturer of high-performance bearings, seals and other shaft line products for the global marine industry is a key part of these efforts. The company is working with Irving Shipbuilding, AOPS prime contractor and shipbuilder, and propulsion integrator MAN Denmark to provide an environmentally safe propeller shaft-bearing system.


Each AOPS is powered by ‎two 4.5 megawatt (MW) main propulsion motors, and four 3.6 mega volt ampere (MVA) generators. The Thordon COMPAC water-lubricated propeller shaft bearings will serve as the main shaft bearings, through which the propeller shafts turn.

 Shaft Bearings


The bearings are environmentally progressive because they are built using Thordon Bearings’s proprietary non-metallic materials that are lubricated with water, eliminating the use of oil or grease, meaning zero risk of pollution to our oceans from the bearings. Seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearings, like the ones Thordon Bearings designs, are even promoted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for all commercial ships operating in U.S. waters.


Thordon Bearings brings 35 years of naval bearing design expertise to the AOPS program, having supplied the Canadian-made COMPAC propeller shaft bearings for the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax class frigates, for which Irving Shipbuilding was also the prime contractor and shipbuilder.


Since the Halifax class frigates were built, the company has seen expansion over 300%, with their products in over 40 Navies and Coast Guards globally.


Now, as a partner on the AOPS program, Thordon Bearings continues to grow. The Thordon SeaThigor, a custom-made mechanical face seal developed as a direct result of Thordon’s involvement in the AOPS program, has led to sales within Canada and internationally, including multiple classes of Canadian Coast Guard vessels. One of the unique aspects of the SeaThigor seal is that it has a safe return to port mode. If the seal is damaged, it activates an inflatable seal so the vessel can proceed to a repair facility on its own power, at reduced speeds.


With more than 100 employees, Thordon Bearings places value on continued development, hiring skilled professionals, and supporting youth employment and experience through co-op positions. Thordon invests heavily in innovation and research & development at its Canadian facility, seeing much of its growth from developing new products in-house. Thordon brings high skill work to the local economy, bolstering Canada’s contribution and reputation by exporting into world markets with market-leading products.


The National Shipbuilding Strategy provides Canadian companies like Thordon Bearings the opportunity to launch new technologies, continue to grow, and find future export opportunities through the Industrial and Technological Benefits program. To learn more about the economic benefits across Canada, visit Irving Shipbuilding’s Canadian Impact page:



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