A consortium which includes Harland and Wolff shipyard has won a £1.25 billion contract to build five new Royal Navy frigates.
The Babcock-led consortium will be named preferred bidder for the supply of five Type 31e frigates to the Royal Navy, in a huge boost to the viability of the under threat Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.
Susan Fitzgerald, Unite regional Coordinating Officer, said: “This morning’s news that the Babcock-led consortium is to be awarded preferred bidder status for the supply of Type 31e Frigates is welcome. The consortium group includes Thales, BMT and Ferguson Marine as well as Harland and Wolff shipyard.
"This news very much highlights that the shipyard in Belfast has a future as a viable shipbuilder."
The shipyard entered administration in August under business advisers BDO.
Around 120 jobs are at risk and the future of a yard which built the Titanic is uncertain.
Ms Fitzgerald added: “Just weeks ago politicians including the British Government had written of this yard, saying it had no future. Through their courageous stand the workforce at Harland and Wolff have held open the door for the company to participate in this work - they have kept this shipyard in the game. The opportunity exists to bring this work to Belfast providing at least five to six years of work in steel fabrication onsite alone.
“We now need to see urgent intervention by government to get our members back to work. There is a clear programme of work for the company into the future – all that is needed is the political will to safeguard a future for this shipyard”, Ms Fitzgerald said.
East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson welcomed the news.
The DUP MP added: "As the administration process within Harland & Wolff continues and does so positively, this announcement will be a huge boon for the workforce who have admirably and steadfastly stood with the yard; knowing the potential that lies ahead.
"This is not the end of the road however and I will continue to support Harland & Wolff in any way possible as it seeks to grow its presence in the markets of the future and ensure the long-term success of the yard."
The deal also secures hundreds of jobs at Rosyth in Fife, where the ships will be assembled, with construction work spread between yards across the UK.
Work is to begin by the end of 2019, with the first ships delivered in 2023.