Cammell Laird saviour John Syvret steps down as CEO

John Syvret played a major role in the revival of Cammell Laird following the collapse of the Birkenhead shipyard in 2001. Tony McDonough reports

Cammell Laird
John Syvret has stood down from his role as chief executive of Cammell Laird. Picture by Gavin Trafford


A major figure in the revival of Merseyside’s Cammell Laird shipyard, John Syvret, has stepped down as chief executive of the business.

LBN understands that Mr Syvret is retiring from his executive role with Cammell Laird, which employs hundreds of people in Birkenhead, and Atlantic and Peninsula Marine Services, but remains on the board as a non-executive director. Cammell Laird’s majority shareholder is Peel Holdings.

Tony Graham has also stepped down from his role as chief operating officer with Cammell Laird. David McGinley, the managing director of global ship repair, conversion and marine specialist Atlantic and Peninsula Marine Services, has been appointed as the chief executive of Cammell Laird with immediate effect.

Mr Syvret helped to bring Cammell Laird back from the dead when it went into receivership in 2001. It suffered financial difficulties due to the late withdrawal from a £50m refit contract for the cruise ship Costa Classica.

He helped relaunch the business on the banks on the Mersey in Birkenhead as Northwestern Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders, with the Cammell Laird name returning to the company by 2008.

Since then he has overseen a successful growth of the business with key contracts including building sections of the UK’s two new aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth, the construction of the new £200m polar research vessel, Sir David Attenborough, and an ongoing contract to maintain the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels.

Cammell Laird
John Syvret, left, with Sir David Attenborough and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2019. Picture by Tony McDonough


He also diversified the firm, expanding its reach in other areas of maritime and engineering. Cammell Laird has played a role in the growth of the offshore wind sector in Liverpool Bay and has worked with the nuclear sector.

In September last year he welcomed legendary broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to Cammell Laird for the official naming ceremony of the polar research vessel.

Mr Syvret was made a CBE in 2012. In late 2012 he was involved in a bitter dispute with the GMB and Unite over plans to lay off 290 Cammell Laird workers, following the ending of a number of contracts.

He will maintain his involvement with his charitable initiatives, which include Wirral Youth Zone and the Engineering College, together with the national industry related boards including the Society of Maritime Industries and the Maritime Enterprise Working Group.

David McGinley is a visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and is a past president of the UK Shipbuilders and Ship Repairers Association, part chair of the Association of British Offshore Industries and is a director of the Society of Maritime Industries.

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