Appledore Shipyard is set to reopen after being rescued in £7m deal
Historic Appledore Shipyard where vessels have been built for 150 years including sections of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to reopen after being rescued in £7m deal
- Appledore Shipyard is set to reopen in Devon after a rescue deal worth £7million
- The 165-year-old site has helped to build aircraft carriers, yachts and ferries
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised the historic site has ‘got a great future’
Unions have welcomed a deal to reopen a historic shipyard in Devon and urged the Government to give it work building ships.
Appledore Shipyard in Devon was bought by InfraStrata, the firm which also owns Belfast’s Harland & Wolff (H&W), in a £7 million deal.
The firm will operate it as Harland & Wolff (Appledore), dealing with smaller vessels than its giant Belfast site where the Titanic was built.
Appledore built part of the Royal Navy’s latest aircraft carriers and has a history dating back to the 1850s.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the site on Tuesday and said it has a ‘massive history but it’s also got a great future’.
Boris Johnson paid Appledore Shipyard a visit today, as InfraStrata announced it was to reopen
The site in Devon will reopen as Harland & Wolff (Appledore), dealing with smaller vessels than the giant Belfast site where the Titanic was built
‘What we want to do is to ensure that there’s a good enough stream of contracts coming through to drive jobs and growth here in Devon,’ he said.
InfraStrata said that while the yard has been dormant in recent months and the acquisition only comes with one employee – the current site manager – the workforce can be ‘very quickly ramped up’ if contracts for work are secured.
Discussions are already under way with the Government and private vessel owners, InfraStrata said.
The site was previously operated by Babcock but closed in March 2019.
Appledore workers were responsible for building part of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier
Boris Johnson said the Appledore site had a ‘massive history but it’s also got a great future’
Its new owners hope the Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Department for Transport will choose a British yard for work on planned vessels.
The yard also hopes to secure work on wind farm projects.
InfraStrata’s chief executive John Wood said: ‘The acquisition at this point in time is opportunistic for the company and one that should not be missed.
‘It not only gives us a strategic foothold in mainland UK but also makes the overall business highly competitive in the smaller and higher ends of the shipyard market, respectively.’
Ian Waddell, general secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, said: ‘The prospect of Appledore being reopened is great news for British shipbuilding and we welcome its purchase by InfraStrata.
‘Appledore played a vital role making the complex bows for the aircraft carrier and it could play a similar role building the future solid support ship which the Government must build in Britain in order to invest in our regional economies and get the economy back up and running.’
Mr Johnson said he hoped the yard reopening would mean ‘contracts coming through to drive jobs and growth here in Devon’
Appledore was emptied last year, 12 years after Babcock International Group acquired the historic site
Unions have welcomed today’s news, following the PM’s visit Unite’s assistant general secretary said: ‘If Boris Johnson’s mantra of build, build, build has any real substance then the UK’s shipbuilding industry must be one of the early beneficiaries’
GMB union organiser Matt Roberts said: ‘We are absolutely delighted with the confirmation that the yard will reopen.
‘We have always firmly believed that the yard can be viable and thrive in the right hands.’
The Unite union’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: ‘It is now incumbent on the UK Government to thoroughly review its procurement policies to ensure that British ships are built at UK yards.’
Appledore Shipyard has built around 350 vessels since it first opened back in 1855, including Royal Navy ships and Irish patrol boats
He said such policies must include the fleet solid support ships, which are due to go out to tender shortly.
‘If Boris Johnson’s mantra of build, build, build has any real substance then the UK’s shipbuilding industry must be one of the early beneficiaries.’
Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox said: ‘I have had continuing dialogue and discussions with Infrastrata since they expressed interest in the yard, but it has been necessary to maintain a tight commercial confidentiality.
‘Their purchase of the yard is excellent news for the local community, ensuring, as it does, the future of the yard and its workforce.
‘I will continue to support the firm and our superb Shipyard to ensure the Government’s strong backing as they develop their business and realise the yard’s potential.’
Appledore Shipyard: Over a century and a half of maritime history
Appledore Yard was founded in 1855, it’s based on the estuary of the River Torridge in Devon and has helped create ships for the Royal Navy – including the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier
During the first half of the 20th century it was known as P.K. Harris & Sons until 1963 when it became Appledore Shipbuilders.
It was purchased in 1974 by Court Line and it remained under its ownership until the company went bust and the shipyard was nationalised.
Appledore Shipyard, pictured in 2003, will soon be able to build vessels once again
It returned to private ownership in 1989 and passed hands several times until Babcock International took over in 2007.
In 2018 the company announced it had no future with the yard and it was closed the following year.
The last ship to be built there was the Irish Navy patrol boat LE George Bernanrd Shaw.
Around 350 vessels have been built at Appledore during its long history, including, small and medium-sized military craft.
Workers at the site have built elements of two Royal Navy aircraft carriers – including bow sections for the HMS Queen Elizabeth as well as its sister ship, the HMS Prince of Wales.
Three survey ships, HMS Echo, HMS Enterprise and HMS Scott, were also built at the yard between 1996 and 2003.
Dredgers, yachts, ferries and patrol boats for the Irish navy have also been built at the yard.
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