Thursday, November 1, 2018

Another British Shipbuilding Casualty as 160 Year Old Yard Closes  

End of the Line Despite Multi Million Pound Order Book

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Shipping News Feature UK – Engineering services company, Babcock International, has announced that it will end operations at its Appledore shipbuilding facility in Devon, ending its site lease in March 2019. The news comes after Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson late on October 31, proposed a package of work worth £60 million as a means of providing a stopgap for Appledore workers, which ultimately proved fruitless with Babcock’s decision.

Babcock International’s Appledore shipbuilding facility was first established on the River Torridge in North Devon in 1855. It was known as P.K. Harris & Sons until it became Appledore Shipbuilders in 1963, which was then bought by Babcock International in 2007.

The facility has built over 200 ships of commercial and naval design standards including, more recently, HMS Scott, HMS Echo, HMS Enterprise and Róisín and LÉ Samuel Beckett Class Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Irish Naval Service. The shipyard was also involved in the construction of many of the steel sections for the new UK aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

Babcock’s is offering relocation opportunities for all 199 Appledore employees at other Babcock facilities, 140 of whom are already on short-term redeployment to its Devonport operations. Babcock says that it very much regrets having to take this course of action and recognises the impact it will have on its dedicated and professional workforce, adding that the company will now engage in a consultation period, working closely with its employees and their Trade Unions representatives during this difficult time.

The Ministry of Defence offered to bring forward a potential £60 million package of work at Devonport, but discussions with Babcock has apparently established that this work would not be enough to secure the long-term future of the yard, and the MOD received no assurances from Babcock that it would keep the yard if offered such a deal

In 2017/18 Appledore generated around £24 million of the Group’s total underlying revenue of £5.4 billion. The MOD spent £1.7 billion with Babcock last year.

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