New £1.3bn frigates contract ‘gives hope to Harland and Wolff shipyard’

The naming of a consortium as the preferred bidder for a £1.3 billion Royal Navy contract has been welcomed by supporters of an under-threat shipyard in Belfast.

The consortium, led by engineering giant Babcock and including the Harland and Wolff shipyard, is expected to be formally awarded the contract later this financial year.

The five ships will be assembled at its Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland and will involve supply chains throughout the UK.

Harland and Wolff shipyard campaign
Harland and Wolff workers and supporters have been campaigning to save the historic Belfast shipyard (Brian Lawless/PA)

Harland and Wolff supporters said the contract would sustain five to six years of work at Belfast shipyard through steel fabrication work alone.

The historic shipyard – best known for building the Titanic – entered administration in August, with accountancy firm BDO overseeing the process.

The move placed 120 jobs at risk.

Workers have been staging a round the clock occupation of the site in a campaign to save it.

A union leader involved with the campaign welcomed the contract development.

Harland and Wolff shipyard in administration
Susan Fitzgerald, regional organiser for Unite (Liam McBurney/PA)

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Susan Fitzgerald said the news “highlights that the shipyard in Belfast has a future as a viable shipbuilder”.

“Just weeks ago politicians including the British Government had written off this yard, saying it had no future,” she said.

“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.”

She added: “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.”

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