Birkenhead shipyard and engineering company Cammell Laird says it plans to pursue an ‘aggressive exports drive’ in 2017 after one of its busiest years for commercial marine work, which saw it land the biggest shipbuilding project in the UK for a generation.
Cammell Laird CEO John Syvret said the winning of the £150million contract to build the Sir David Attenborough polar research vessel for the UK Government ‘threw open’ a new global market to build a range of high value polar vessels from research to cruise ships.
“Winning the Sir David has thrust the Cammell Laird brand back to where it belongs in the global super league of shipbuilding,” he said. “We won it against fierce international competition and it sends a massive message to industry about the world class skills, facilities and workforce we have here. The complex nature of the build and the polar specifications required means very few shipyards now have our experience.
“We fully intend to market this polar capability hard in 2017 together with our wider expertise in the ship building, conversion and repair markets. Cammell Laird is fully behind the UK Government’s desire to see British shipbuilding aggressively pursue the exports market and promote Britain as an easy place to do business post Brexit.
Moreover, the recommendations made by Sir John Parker in his National Shipbuilding Strategy are very astute and stand to create more opportunity for shipyards like Cammell Laird to win work particularly in the naval new build sector, where again we have considerable experience with the recent aircraft carrier programme. Success within our maritime division will in turn enable us to diversify further into multi-billion pound energy markets like nuclear, oil and gas and renewables.”
Cammell Laird managing director Linton Roberts said the total number of drydockings and repairs in 2016 was more than 150 while workforce numbers peaked at 1050 in full time and contractor positions while apprentice numbers had grown by 21 to 79.
In terms of other newbuild work he said the Birkenhead based yard had sent the Strangford Lough ferry ‘Strangford II’ for commissioning and sea trials before being delivered to her owners the Northern Ireland Executive at the beginning of October.
Mr Roberts said the range of the ships and breadth of work undertaken reinforced the capabilities within the company. He said Cammell Laird has undertaken repair and routine drydockings for a number of RoRo and RoPax customers including P&O Ferries, Stena Line, Seatruck Ferries, Irish Ferries, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and Caledonian McBrayne.
Ships worked on include: Clipper Ranger, Ben-My-Chree, Clansman, Finlaggen, Isle of Arran, Isle of Lewis, Loch Portain, Lochinvar, Lord of the Isles, Isle of Inishmore, Jonathan Swift, Manannan, Norbank, Norbay, European Endeavour, Stena Performer, Seatruck Progress and Seatruck Pace.
Mr Roberts said the Caledonian MacBrayne’s flagship, the 2014-built Loch Seaforth, travelled from Ullapool for an 11-day dry dock in October, followed by Lord of the Isles and Hebridean Isles in November 2016.
Isle of Mull is scheduled for the end of November 2017. A variety of other types of vessels have also been accommodated. The Afon Dyfrdwy Airbus wing carrier was in drydock in July, and Amazone paid a visit for hopper door repairs in the same month. Meanwhile Galileo G Expedition Superyacht was an exotic visitor in May.
Mr Roberts said Cammell Laird had seen a quieter year in RFA work ahead of an expected upturn in 2017. Cammell Laird has a through-life support cluster contract to maintain nine of the 13 ships in the RFA flotilla. However, the yard did undertake a dry docking and maintenance period for the RFA Fort Rosalie between October and November.
Elsewhere Cammell Laird repaired Mersey Ferries’ Royal Iris following a grounding at the entrance to the Manchester Ship Canal, and fellow Mersey Ferries Royal Daffodil and the dazzle-painted Snowdrop were also drydocked during the year. Meanwhile, bunker tanker Mersey Spirit, hopper barge HAM 602, jack-up Irish Sea Pioneer and tug Switzer Asgarth all visited the shipyard during 2016. The historic steam tugs Daniel Adamson and Kerne departed the shipyard in the middle of the year, both centenarians having completed comprehensive rebuilds. A new visitor to Birkenhead in November was the container vessel Rachel Borchard, docking for repairs.
Cammell Laird background
Cammell Laird is one of the most famous names in British industry with roots tracing back to the early 19th Century. The business is located on the River Mersey, in the Liverpool City Region, on the West Coast of England. It is in the centre of a marine cluster, with direct access to many support services. It has a 120 acre site with four dry docks, a non-tidal wet basin, large modular construction hall and extensive covered workshops.
Cammell Laird specialises in military ship refit, commercial ship repair, upgrade and conversion and heavy fabrication and engineering. It deals with a wide variety of projects ranging from specialist offshore conversions and fabrication, commercial ship-repair through to the refit and upgrade of highly complex naval auxiliaries. It has also recently re-entered the ship-building market.
The business is further active in the energy sector. It has become a hub of the off shore wind industry and it is offering its facilities and highly trained workforce of engineers for work in the civil nuclear sector and the off shore oil and gas sector.