Newry firm MJM Group has landed a major new deal which will see it refit a major cruise vessel at Harland & Wolff in Belfast.
The move is part of a recent multi-million pound contract between cruise liners Royal Caribbean and Azamara Club and the specialist high-end fitout company, MJM Group. It also marks the first time a cruise ship firm has awarded complete project management responsibility to an individual organisation.
MJM Group will project manage the docking, berthing and refit of the Azamara Pursuit in Belfast this April and the ship will make its maiden voyage in August.
Gary Annett, chief executive of MJM Group, said the deal is a “milestone opportunity” for the company.
"The success of this project has the potential to be a game-changer for the UK maritime industry. By securing this multi-million pound contract we are putting Northern Ireland, and the UK’s marine industry in a strong position to compete for future drydock and refit works," he said.
There are currently 335 ocean going ships which dry-dock on average every two and a half years for refit work that represents a spend of $3bn. These projects usually take place at shipyards in the Caribbean, Europe, USA, Canada and Asia.
MJM Group, which was set up in 1983 by Brian McConville, can list all of the world’s top cruise liners as clients, including Star Cruises, with which it signed a seven-figure contract last year for work in China.
But Mr Annett said the Royal Caribbean and Azamara Club deal allowed it realise a goal to bring a major refit to a UK port.
“... we have always had the ambition to revive the rich shipbuilding industry history right here in Northern Ireland. We looked at many other facilities globally but we worked hard to put together a case for Northern Ireland.
"To secure the Azamara project we had to demonstrate that we had the ability to provide complete project management, outfitting, berthing and ship yard services. With Harland & Wolff on our doorstep and our experience in the industry we were able to do this. This truly is a historic day for this industry in Northern Ireland, for MJM Group and indeed our customers,” he said.
Jonathan Guest, director of business development and improvement at Harland & Wolff said the deal has the “potential to revive this industry in Northern Ireland”.