Appledore Shipyard to reopen under new owner

Unions have welcomed a deal to reopen a historic shipyard in Devon and urged the Government to give it work building ships.

Appledore Shipyard in Devon was bought by InfraStrata, the firm which also owns Belfast’s Harland & Wolff (H&W), in a £7 million deal.

The firm will operate it as Harland & Wolff (Appledore), dealing with smaller vessels than the giant Belfast site where the Titanic was built.

Appledore built part of the Royal Navy’s latest aircraft carriers and has a history dating back to the 1850s.

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InfraStrata said that while the yard has been dormant in recent months and the acquisition only comes with one employee – the current site manager – the workforce can be “very quickly ramped up” if contracts for work are secured.

Discussions are already under way with the Government and private vessel owners, InfraStrata said.

The site was previously operated by Babcock but closed in March 2019.

Its new owners hope the Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Department for Transport will choose a British yard for work on planned vessels.

The yard also hopes to secure work on wind farm projects.

Ian Waddell, general secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, said: “The prospect of Appledore being reopened is great news for British shipbuilding and we welcome its purchase by InfraStrata.

“Appledore played a vital role making the complex bows for the aircraft carrier and it could play a similar role building the future solid support ship which the Government must build in Britain in order to invest in our regional economies and get the economy back up and running.”