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Modular construction expertise put Cammell Laird back in the premier league of shipbuilding

posted on October 22, 2019 categories Project News

A crowd of thousands gathered at Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead on September 26 for the official naming of RRS Sir David Attenborough. This ground-breaking polar research vessel pushes the boundaries of marine engineering technology, and underlines the breadth and depth of modular construction expertise on offer in Birkenhead.

RRS Sir David Attenborough is one of the most technologically advanced commercial ships ever built in the UK. The process saw Cammell Laird make full use of its heavy fabrication facilities on the banks of the River Mersey, in particular, the shipyard’s modular construction hall. The building is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and where the majority of blocks for RRS Sir David Attenborough were fabricated.

Britain’s new polar research ship is just the latest vessel to benefit from the extensive facilities and world-class skills to be found at Cammell Laird.

Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers

Cammell Laird’s engineering facilities and the skills of its workforce were also put to full use during the construction of Britain’s two new aircraft carriers. The Birkenhead firm was contracted by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance to build flight decks for HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of a two-and-a-half year, multi-million pound project. Successful delivery led directly to the award of a further contract to fabricate nine units for the UK’s second new carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.

Prince of Wales blocks on the quayside at Cammell Laird.

Astute-class submarines

Following the completion of the carrier contract, Cammell Laird began supporting BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines with a modular construction project to build the Royal Navy’s new Astute-class boats. This marked the start of an important new chapter in the firm’s long-standing relationship with Britain’s submarine fleet. Various modules, casings and units were produced in Birkenhead for boats five, six and seven, all of which were transported by sea from Cammell Laird’s non-tidal wet basin to BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow.

Ballistic Missile submarines

In 2018, a deal was agreed with BAE Systems that will see Cammell Laird take part in a new modular build project – this time supporting the construction of ballistic missile submarines.

Research and Development

A new nuclear sector research and development hub launched at Cammell Laird in 2017 in partnership with the UK’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC). This facility was established to further develop modular manufacturing methods, drawing on Cammell Laird’s expertise in modular shipbuilding. Research is ongoing into a wide range of areas supporting the assembly, commissioning and transportation of modules of up to 5,000 tonnes.