Maritime Tales: A Company History Series | Episode 2

­Words by Dave McMillan, former CEO of Vard Marine Inc. (1989-2020)

One of the decisions that had the greatest impact through the life of the company, at that time called Kvaerner Masa Marine (KMM), was the acquisition in 1999 of Polar Design Associates (PDA).  PDA was another local naval architect company in Vancouver that had an extensive portfolio of fishing vessels and patrol vessels (among other vessel types). Acquiring PDA was the springboard into the OPV market, almost immediately giving us the 80M Irish Naval Service OPV.  It also brought Mark Cook to the company along with others from PDA whose impact over the last 20 years has contributed greatly to our success.

PDA’s owner and principal engineer, Bob Armour, continued to work with the company for a couple of years and in 2001, while travelling back from a visit to the shipyard building the Irish OPVs in Devon, he was asked to stop in at Vosper Thornycroft in Southampton.  Bob was asked if KMM could design a new hydrographic research vessel for them to bid to the UK Navy.  From that one quick visit, we secured the contract for the design of what are now HMS “Echo” and HMS “Enterprise”.  These vessels have been extremely successful and a major contributor to our success in the RV market including the recent Hydrographic Research Vessel contract with Sandock Austral Shipyards for the South African Navy.