Mersey shipyard begins work on £18m contract
A Mersey based shipyard is beginning work on a massive £18m Ministry of Defence (MOD) contract to overhaul the largest ship in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), the RFA Fort George.
Northwestern Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd (NSL) managing director John Syvret said: “Ship repairing and restoring is now back on the Mersey where it belongs,” he said. “It is absolutely magnificent to see the RFA Fort George in the shipyard docked near the RFA Fort Rosalie which we are also restoring. The RFA Fort George contract will last for around six months employing up to 250 men at any one time meaning that we will have up 1000 men working in the shipyard this year. This is now our most successful year since launching NSL in 2001. This puts us in a position of considerable strength as we look to rename ourselves back to Cammell Laird later this year, a move we hope will catapult us forward into the international restoring and repairing industry.”
Tony Graham, Ministry of Defence Director of Afloat Support for Defence Equipment and Support said: “We have a proven working relationship with NSL and are delighted to have them on board this project which is a significant package not just for the company but also for the Birkenhead region. Delivering ship’s stores as well as fuel, the RFAs are the life support machines for the fleet while they are at sea so it is essential that we keep them in top condition. These ships often serve very long periods at a time at sea these docking periods are crucial to update and add new equipment, such as the communications systems on Fort George, as well as perform routine maintenance.”
Mr Syvret said NSL, which based in the famous Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, has also signed up 16 new apprentices this month. “This shipyard has a proud tradition of providing high quality skilled jobs to local people,” he said. “We are passionate about continuing that legacy. We are proud to be able to offer these 16 young men highly skilled jobs and an exciting varied career in engineering.”
Mr Syvret said the scope of the RFA Fort George contract is considerable and will be managed by 40-year-old Spencer Atkinson who first began working at Cammell Laird in 1990.
“The RFA Fort George will be undergoing a massive overhaul including an upgrade of machinery, main engines, operational and communications systems, weaponry and an accommodation refit,” he said. “Much of this is highly skilled technical work, it really is a tremendous ship to work on and we look forward to maintaining it into the future.”
The RFA Fort George contract follows the successful £20m refurbishment of RFA Diligence and the £6m refurbishments of RFA Wave Ruler and RFA Wave Knight last year.
NSL’s turnover has grown fast rising from £9m in 2002 to £21m in 2005 to £41m in 2007. Projected turnover for 2008 is in excess of £50m. NSL’s current workload is split around 50-50 between MOD and commercial sector work.