Data Ship Systems
1035 W. 11th Ave., Suite 302
V6H 1K2 Canada
(604) 355 7499
james.mcconnell on skype
For close to 40 years, Data Ship Systems and principle, James (Fred) McConnell have designed and built metal workboats and yachts for scores of satisfied clients. Starting in 1976 in Port Colborne Ontario, McConnell Marine Limited built a series of steel and aluminum alloy yachts and small commercial craft, culminating in 1981 with the construction and commissioning of Canada 1, Canada's first challenger for the America's Cup since the disasterous Countess of Dufferin and Atalanta challenges of 1876 and 1881 respectively. Designed by Laser designer Bruce Kirby and assisted by Steve Killing, the construction was interrupted by serious financial challenges, but with support from Canada's yachting prince, Paul Phelan, a competitive challenge was eventually raised, the yacht skippered by Toronto's RCYC Olympian Terry McLachlan.
After moving from Ontario to Nova Scotia in 1982, McConnell Marine merged with Rose Bay Boat Shop to form Crockett McConnell Inc. (CMC), in partnership with Venture Capitalist Joe Potter of Marcan Vencap. After negotiating a licensing agreement with the Offshore Safety Equipmewnt supplier Watercraft of the UK, Crockett McConnell proceeded to develop a series of RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) for the Atlantic Canadian Offshore Industry. The RI22, already in production at Watercraft's plant on the Isle of Wight was produced in numbers for the Canadian market first in the original Rose Bay Shop near Lunenburg and then in dedicated facilities in Bridgewater. Addressing addition requirements both in the Offshore and Govermnnment sectors, CMC followed with the R6 and R5.5, both versions with the now popular rigid vinyl covered polyureathane segmented collars. The demise of the Offshore play in Halifax in the mid 80's led CMC to develop a series of aluminium inshore fishing vessels (lobster boats, draggers, pair seiners) and small workboats for a a variety of industries, particularily aquaculture. The late 80's saw the construction of three International 12 Metre Yachts for the True North challenge for the America's cup. This major undertaking was partially financed by the Nova Scotia Goverment.
By 1988, it was clear that profitability in the marine fabrication sector would have to wait until the revival of the Offshore which was at that time, years away. CMC, including much developed small craft design and production technology was sold by the investors to Georgetown Shipyards, a crown corporation of the Province of Prince Edward Island. McConnell and a small group of technologists moved to PEI to implement the technology at the unionized plant in Georgetown. This started the integration of the small shipyard focus of what had been developed at CMC with the operations of a much larger operation. First up was a new R7 rigid sponson rescue boat for the Canadian Coast Guard, followed by a prototype Arun Self-Righting Lifeboat. Within 18 months, the shipyard and the technology was purchased by St. John Shipbuilding, a huge industrial concern in neighbouring New Brunswick, deeply involved the Canadian Patrol Frigate (CPF) program. This and the Mine Countremeasures Defense Vessel (MCDV) program occupied the full workforce at the renamed 'East Isle Shipyard' for several years. The late 1990's saw the development of a series of large azimuthing thruster tugs, built for the Atlantic Towing fleet. These 30M+ vessels, designed by Robert Allan Limited of Vancouver were built in numbers (over 20) through 2008.
By this time McConnell had established Data Ship Systems as a consulting operation, providing surface modelling, shell expansion and detail design services to a wide variety of clients, including Robert Allan Limited, who have continued to develop this and other types of tugs and become a major player in this field. By the early 2000's web ecommerce development and Perl programming was occupying a larger portion of Data Ship's work. This continued until 2011, when Data Ship returned to it's roots, focusing again on small craft design and technology implementation. McConnell moved to the West Coast (Vancouver and Port Alberni) where he today lives aboard the Bill Garden designed Formosa 41 "Santorini".