New fit-out contract to take shipbuilding legacy into the future
A major deal struck between a Newry-based fit-out firm and one of the world's largest cruise liners is among the first of its kind to be carried out in the UK, it's been claimed.
MJM Group's contract with Royal Caribbean Cruises and Azamara Cruises will see it bring the first ever cruise ship to Belfast to drydock in April.
The Belfast job will require MJM to project manage the docking, berthing and refit of the Azamara Pursuit ship "from bow to stern", chief executive Gary Annett told the Belfast Telegraph.
The work will be carried out at the east Belfast shipyard of Harland & Wolff.
Mr Annett said: "It's a major project and will include the refurbishment of the entire ship. Any area where a passenger goes will be worked on by us.
"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.
MJM, set up in 1983 by Brian McConville, carries out work for many of the world's top cruise liners, including Star Cruises, with which it signed a seven-figure contract last year for work in China.
Mr Annett said the Royal Caribbean and Azamara Club contract allowed the firm to realise a goal of bringing a major refit to Belfast. It will include working on other vessels such the Symphony of the Seas.
"We have always had the ambition to revive the rich shipbuilding industry history right here in Northern Ireland. This truly is a historic day for this industry in Northern Ireland, for MJM Group and indeed our customers."
Jonathan Guest, director at Harland & Wolff welcomed the news as a "potential to revive this industry in Northern Ireland". And Larry Pimentel, president and chief executive of Azamara Club Cruises, said: "This is the first time any company within Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has used a UK shipyard for refit works of this scale. We are delighted to come to Northern Ireland with Azamara Pursuit."
Harland and Wolff has revealed that it is bidding for a contract to build some of the Royal Navy's new Type 31e frigate. The shipyard made the bid for the Government's MoD £1.25bn shipbuilding scheme, alongside design firm Babcock International and Thales in September. Meanwhile P&O Ferries announced that it carried the highest volume of freight traffic on its Larne-Cairnryan service in six years in 2017.