Cammell Laird reports strong start to 2019, welcoming 25 vessels

Iconic Birkenhead shipbuilder, ship repairer and engineering services company said it handled 11 ferries and 14 other vessels in the January to April period. Tony McDonough reports

RFA Fort Victoria
RFA Fort Victoria is set to return to Cammell Laird


Cammell Laird saw 25 vessels come into its Birkenhead shipyard for drydocking and repairs in the first four months of 2019.

The iconic shipbuilder, ship repairer and engineering services company said it handled 11 ferries and 14 other vessels in the January to April period, carrying out work for 13 separate clients.

RFA contract

This year has seen the arrival of the 39,000-tonne Tide-class tanker Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Tidespring marking the start of two Through Life Support , worth £619m, that will see Cammell Laird maintain nine vessels of the RFA over the next 10 years.

The successful re-tender of the RFA contract will also shortly see the arrival of RFA Tiderace, another of the new Tide class tankers as well as the ‘pirate catcher’ RFA Fort Victoria which completed a £44m refit at Cammell Laird at the end of 2018 and will return for a drydocking period.

Cammell Laird is also putting the finishing touches to Sir David Attenborough, the £200m polar exploration vessel it has been building at the yard.

Its customers during the period included Seatruck, Irish Ferries, Svitzer, Calmac, Merseytravel, the RFA, Red Funnel, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Smit Kotug, P&O, PetroFac, Geoquip, Stena and the National Environmental Research Council (NERC).

High standard

Tony Graham, chief operating officer at Cammell Laird, said the workload was similar to the strong start the business made to 2018 in terms of vessel movements for customers. He added: “We have experienced a good start to the year thanks to the high standard of facilities and skills Cammell Laird can offer customers.

“Notable pieces of work have included the building of the £10m freight ferry the Red Kestrel, which sailed away in April following a nine-month build programme and came after we saw off international competitors to win the contract. 

Cammell Laird
Tony Graham, chief operating officer at Cammell Laird


“We have also completed moon pool installations on the offshore supply ship Toisa Vigilant and retractable thruster installations on the Dublin Swift ferry.

“The scale and breadth of work Cammell Laird carries out demonstrates the reputation we have built with our customers who trust us to deliver only the best quality workmanship, on time at competitive prices.  We are keen to build on this and win more work from new and existing clients.”

Active period

Mr Graham said the coming months will see notable work on the offshore supply ship, Irish Sea Pioneer, which will undergo a refit, including upgrades to the accommodation and power management system, steel works and general drydock specifications.

“We have an active period coming up as we will also finish building RSS Sir David Attenborough polar ship, the biggest commercial shipbuilding project in Britain for 30 years which again we won against fierce international competition,” he added.

“This stellar project showcases the world-class skills and infrastructure we have at Cammell Laird. We have bold and ambitious plans to catapult the company further into the shipbuilding market building on the success for the SDA.

Cammell Laird
Polar explorer vessel Sir David Attenborough at Cammell Laird shipyard. Picture by Tony McDonough


“This includes seeking to win the new £1.25bn contract to build five Type 31e warships for the UK MOD with our partner BAE Systems with a decision expected later this year.

“We are active with the TEAM UK consortium with the Government expected to announce the winning Fleet Solid Support bid in 2020. In addition, later this year we very much look forward to welcoming the first of six Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyers as part of a £160m contract to upgrade and modernise the power propulsion systems.”

Cammell Laird can employ up to 1,500 workers directly and indirectly at peak times and has 300 suppliers including many local small businesses. The company has further invested £18m in 250 apprentices since 2008, making it one of the largest apprentice programmes in the region.

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