Ross Jespersen says he is lucky.

When he graduated from the University of Victoria back in 2018, with a degree in Electrical Engineering,
he jumped right into what he describes as his dream job: working on the power systems of the Sir John
Franklin, the first of the three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (OFSV) that Seaspan was building for
the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

That may seem like a very specific dream for a young graduate to have, but there’s a backstory. Ross is
from a long line of people who have made ships and boats their business. His great-grandfather, back in
Denmark worked in a shipyard, as did his father before him. When Ross’ grandfather came to Canada,
he started a business building and repairing yachts in Sidney, British Columbia. Ross’ Dad runs the
business now, and, at one time, Ross thought his future lay there too. That is, until he actually worked
there for a few summers. “That was some pretty tough physical work,” laughs Ross, “It got me thinking,
hard, about pursuing further education.”

He decided to study engineering at the University of Victoria, in a co-op program, where, as luck would
have it, his second internship took him to Seaspan. There, he glimpsed a different future. Seaspan,
under the NSS, was hard at work building ships, and, importantly, developing a new generation of
shipbuilders, much needed after the lull in the sector of the 80’s and 90’s. “That’s where I got a taste for
it; I knew I wanted to be part of that.” He came back for a second placement in his fourth year, hoping
that would help him get invited back to work full time after graduation. He was. “My degree took me
five years of hard work, then it all paid off in one phone call – so cool.”

Today, Ross provides engineering support to the team of electricians who are completing the final
installation and commissioning of the electrical equipment onboard the first OFSV. “And honestly,” he
adds with a quick smile, “the support goes both ways – this is a really experienced group of electricians,
I’m learning a lot from them and they’re helping me develop as an engineer.”

Ross says it’s a massive and complex undertaking to build a ship of this size, with so many people
involved. He credits his two internships working under Alex Greig, his current manager, with preparing
him to take on this challenge.

“Having something produced in real life isn’t always exactly what you thought it would be from even the
most detailed two-dimensional drawing, so I try to think of the end user to decide on the exact location
of things. Some are straightforward, like the best position for the reading light at the head of the bed or
ethernet cable at the desk for the phone, but when I have questions about how something is likely to
get used when the ship is in operation, I talk to the Coast Guard to figure out what we should be going

Ross loved the partnership aspect of working on the OFSVs, working through problems with others, and
seeing continuous progress on the ship week to week. He’s pretty happy overall, actually. “I didn’t want
to work anywhere else; I really wanted to work on the NSS,” he said, before adding, “I got to jump in
right out of school — not everyone gets their dream job on their first shot. Lucky, right?” Seaspan certainly feels lucky to have him and is proud to know that Ross’ success cascades out to the shipyard and the NSS, contributing to the rebuilding of Canada’s shipbuilding sector and to the renewal
of Canada’s fleets.