Hundreds of people lined up at a Dartmouth hotel on Tuesday after hiring began for Irving’s shipbuilding projects in Halifax.

Irving Shipbuilding is looking to hire 200 people almost immediately and a total of 1,000 people by 2017 to work for the Arctic offshore patrol ship contract.

By 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday more than 200 people had applied or were in a line that stretched down the stairs, across the hotel lobby and to the parking lot doors.

“We’re overwhelmed by the turnout,” said Mary Keith, Irving’s vice-president of communications.

A common thread emerged in the stories of many of those applying for the jobs: many were Maritimers working in places like Alberta, looking for a way to earn a living back home.

Sarah Shewchuk picked up her husband Aaron at the airport earlier that morning and drove straight to the job fair.

Back home in New Glasgow, N.S., they have four children.

“He should be able to work in his own stomping grounds, his own province. That's what's best for the family,” she said.

Aaron said he’s keen to find work closer to home.

“Flew all night on a plane, like I do every 14 days. Back and forth. Just getting tired of it,” he said.

Adam Saunders, a 23-year-old welder, said he’s hoping to land a job that gives him more security.

“I'd rather just set up my life so I don't continuously jump around job to job. Just stay home working every day,” he said.

The number of spouses seen waiting outside the interview room showed how a job in the national shipbuilding program is just as important for the families of many applicants.

That’s where Shannon Lewis and Jodi Snair were Tuesday morning.

“We have two children at home. He's been laid off April 10th. He's been a welder for the past 15 years. And our life depends on it,” Lewis said.

Snair said the lifestyle associated with out-of-province work is taking its toll.

“It's hard. He's gone for two weeks, so I guess I'm a single mom for two weeks at a time,” Snair said.

“And we have two boys, 14 and 16. So they miss their dad,” she said.

Ed Hatch, president of the Unifor marine workers union, said he was pleased to see the strong turnout.

“I'm glad to see that many people to turn out. … The union’s been waiting for this for a long time,” Hatch said.

Keith said there are non-union jobs that Irving is looking to fill, such as engineers, but there only about 80 of those.

“The priority is for over 200 of those skilled trades: fabricator, pipefitters, iron workers and welders,” she said.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Rick Grant