Stena Line docking at Harland & Wolff for £7m annual refit
Stena Line is spending almost £7m refitting its Irish Sea ferries at Harland & Wolff as part of the vessels' yearly spruce-up.
The company will carry out the bulk of its annual ferry fleet refit and maintenance at the Belfast dock, as part of a continuing relationship with Harland & Wolff.
Stena Line will be carrying out upgrades to its facilities for passengers as well as routine maintenance and engine works.
Refitting for nine of its Irish Sea fleet will take place between the end of December and the end of May - and the firm said the schedule was planned to avoid undue impact on its sailing schedules.
The vessels will be visiting the shipyard on a carefully-planned timetable.
Paul Grant, Stena Line route manager for the Irish Sea, said: "The marine refit sector is a highly competitive market and I'm delighted to confirm that Stena Line has appointed Harland & Wolff to carry out this important operational project.
"Stena Line is committed to supporting the local communities in which it operates and with our expanding operations hub at Belfast Port, having a world class refit expertise close by is a real benefit."
He added 2016 had been a "record year" for Stena in car, passenger and freight markets on its Belfast to Cairnryan, Liverpool and Heysham routes. And he said that when completed, the refit programme would help Stena maintain its "market leading position".
Stuart Wilson, general manager of Harland & Wolff's ship repair division, said: "By docking their Irish Sea fleet with us on an annual basis, Stena Line's business has become an integral part of our ship repair activities, providing valuable support not just to our company but also to the local supply chain, who provide specialist and ancillary services as part of the vessel dockings."
The former shipbuilder generated operating profit of £1m for the year ending December 2015, according to the latest accounts for Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries Ltd. It worked on 21 vessels during the year.
Harland & Wolff has turned to ship repairs, renewable energy and offshore projects since its last ship sailed out in 2003.