Belfast Telegraph

H&W could get share of Royal Navy shipbuilding

By Margaret Canning

A former chief executive of Harland & Wolff has said it could be involved in multi-million pound Royal Navy shipbuilding contracts after a report recommended that the work should be shared among shipyards.

Sir John Parker, who headed the company from 1983 to 1993, said H&W was one of a number of shipyards across the UK which could work on the lucrative deals.

He is the author of an independent report commissioned by the Ministry of Defence on how the building of ships for the Navy - and for export - can be done more efficiently.

Northern Ireland-born Sir John, who is now chairman of mining giant Anglo-American, said that while shipyards like H&W had diversified in recent years, they still had the ability to build the Royal Navy vessels in blocks. In particular, there was scope for the building of the Type 31e frigate - a warship designed for export.

He said he travelled to shipyards around the UK in the course of his research. And speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said H&W was as "well placed as any" to bid for the work.

"Without doubt they still have the facilities and they've convinced us that any skills they don't have now, they would be able to hire in," he said.

He said the ships when complete cost "three figure millions". He added the yards could adapt to working on the Type 31e frigates, which could be split into blocks and built in different locations. That would promote a faster rate of production than building the whole vessel in a single location.

"That's the model to get costs away down. We think that this should provide us a real opportunity to tackle very large export market. That's the fuel in the tank, so to speak," he said.

Under his plan the first Type 31e frigates would be ready for delivery in 2020.

A spokesman for H&W said: "H&W engaged with Sir John Parker and his team during the assessment phase of his study.

"We agree with Sir John Parker's conclusions regarding the potential of the wider UK shipbuilding industry's capability and capacity, one that Harland and Wolff continues to demonstrate in the maritime, offshore oil gas and renewable energy sectors. We look forward to continuing our working relationship with the Ministry of Defence and supporting them with their future projects."

Last week H&W announced a deal with ScottishPower Renewables, which it said would safeguard 200 jobs .

Belfast Telegraph