'Historic moment for shipbuilding' will see 900 jobs created in Belfast
Roughly 900 jobs are to be created in what has been described as an “historic moment for shipbuilding in Belfast”.
The city’s Harland and Wolff shipyard is part of the Team Resolute consortium which is to deliver three fleet solid support ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
The consortium which comprises Harland and Wolff, BMT and Navantia was selected as the preferred bidder last November.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris visited the Harland and Wolff shipyard on Wednesday as the contract was confirmed.
The £1.6 billion contract is expected to create 1,200 shipyard jobs across the UK with 900 in Belfast and 800 further jobs across the supply chain.
The deal releases £100 million of investment from Team Resolute into UK shipyards, including £77 million of infrastructure, the bulk of which will go into Harland and Wolff’s Belfast and Appledore shipyards in north Devon and a further £21 million in skills and technology transfer from Navantia UK.
The trio will be the first ships built by the shipyard since MV Anvil Point was launched in 2002.
Production is due to start in 2025 with recapitalisation and yard improvements starting immediately with all three support ships expected to be operational by 2032.
The historic Belfast shipyard, which built the Titanic, appeared to be facing an uncertain future in 2019 when it was placed into administration.
Its future was secured when InfraStrata, now Harland and Wolff, acquired it for £6 million.
Mr Wallace described the contract as a “significant boost” to the UK’s shipbuilding industry.
“Creating jobs and prosperity, Team Resolute is bringing shipbuilding back to Belfast, developing a modern, resilient and thriving shipbuilding industry that will support naval and commercial shipbuilding into the future,” he said.
Harland and Wolff chief executive, John Wood, said: “This is the last chance to capture the excellent shipbuilding skills that remain in Belfast and Appledore before they are lost, and pass them on to the next generation of UK shipbuilders.
“UK Government has seized this opportunity and, in doing so, ensured the long-term survival of our shipyards and significantly bolstered sovereign shipbuilding capability.”
East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson welcomed the contract as a "vote of confidence" in the shipyard.
Mr Robinson said today’s visit of the defence secretary represents an exciting new chapter for the future of Harland & Wolff.
"The yard has faced many challenges, but the construction of these vessels for the Royal Navy signifies the hope for a much brighter future". He said.
Union representative Joe Passmore, of Unite, hailed an “historic moment for shipbuilding in Belfast”.
He said: “We campaigned for Harland and Wolff with a view to bringing new infrastructure and knowledge into our shipyards, and FSS will create jobs, skills and opportunities for young people in Northern Ireland.”
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