Sir Robert Bond comes to Burry’s Shipyard in Clarenville

Lots of work ahead for the local company

Jonathan Parsons
Published on December 6, 2016

Burry Group President Glenn Burry stands in the shipyard in Clarenville. Burry’s Shipyard has been quite busy lately, including a taking on the M.V. Sir Robert Bond, which is set to be overhauled to become a freighter for a private company.

©Jonathan Parsons/TC Media

This past weekend, the largest vessel to ever dock at Burry’s Shipyard sailed up Random Sound.

The M.V. Sir Robert Bond, a ferry that used to serve Labrador from Lewisporte, was sold by the provincial government and is now set to be overhauled by Burry’s so it can serve as a freighter for a private company.

This comes after two years of effort to increase the capacity of the shipyard. During the past 18 months, Burry’s has seen many firsts, including the heaviest, deepest, widest and longest vessels to have been drydocked in their yard.

The work on the Bond began on Tuesday.

The 480-foot vessel will have its many valves, pumps and bearings serviced, as well as some other repairs.

The huge stern door also requires some steelwork as it is no longer watertight and needs to be refitted.

The four large engines and three generators, as well as the bow thruster, will be overhauled in Clarenville.

The Sir Robert Bond.

©Jonathan Parsons/TC Media

George Whalen, contract manager for Burry’s, says they’ve had bigger jobs than the Bond, but nothing to this scale. He’s worked at the yard for 16 years.

“In terms of physically big, it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever worked on,” Whalen told The Packet. The propeller shaft on the Bond, he noted, is 14 inches in diameter.

He says normally all that type of work would be done by hand, but dealing with such big parts will slow down the work a little bit.

When the work is done on the ship, it will be seaworthy once again.

There were even some stowaways aboard the vessel.

Whalen says don’t be surprised if you see a few more pigeons in the area, as he estimated there are about several hundred which periodically emerge from outside nesting areas.

With two shifts working full time, Whalen estimates the Bond will be set to leave Clarenville in about a month and a half.

Work being done in the machine shop.
Jonathan Parsons/TC Media


Work ramping up at the shipyard

The shipyard has been in Clarenville since the 1940s.

It was the birthplace of the infamous Splinter Fleet built in the 1940s to bring goods and services to coastal areas.

In the 1970s, longliners for the inshore fishing fleet were built here, and various vessels — including this province’s most famous schooner, The Norma and Gladys — were fixed up in this yard.

Lately, Burry’s Shipyard has been busier than ever.

There are 11 contracts currently ongoing at the shipyard, which has anywhere from 75 to 100 employees in the yard and office at various times.

Whalen says there are six to eight more boats waiting to come in for repair.

“That’s just the way it is,” he said. “When you do the work you’re doing and your name gets out there and you do good work, it just snowballs.

“That’s what seems to be happening.”

Some of the employees include welders, marine diesel mechanics, millwrights, machinists and electricians.

The company also has its own machine shop and a foundry, producing anodes that are shipped across the country and even to the United States. They also have a new mobile repair service and a crane service.

Some of the ongoing projects include decommissioning barges for Long Harbour and Voisey’s Bay projects, as well as many fishing vessel repairs and inspections.

The M.V. Sikuk, currently at the yard, is an iceberg harvester from Iceland.

Many people may not realize that Clarenville is home to a very active and busy shipyard.

Burry’s is located on Marine Drive, a street that’s doesn’t see as much traffic as the busier Memorial Drive and Manitoba Drive commercial districts.

However, the shipyard is a significant part of the local economy and bucking the trend of economic gloom with lots of work to do and more work to come.

Twitter: @jejparsons


This article was edited from a previous version.