Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Historic Ship Builder Celebrates Milestone Anniversary as it Branches Out

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Shipping News Feature

UK – One of the most iconic names in shipbuilding is celebrating its 160th anniversary this week. Founded on 11 April 1861 by Sir Edward James Harland and Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, the heritage of Harland & Wolff includes work on some of the most iconic ships, including the famous RMS Titanic, RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic, right through to the SS Canberra for P&O and the Myrina, the first supertanker built in the UK.

Recently viewers of BBC TV drama Bloodlands featuring James Nesbitt have become familiar with Goliath, one of the giant cranes used in the company yard in Belfast and now standing redundant. Of late however things are looking up for the company, since 2019 a wholly-owned subsidiary of InfraStrata plc, a London Stock Exchange-listed firm focused on strategic infrastructure projects and physical asset life-cycle management.

With major shipbuilding contracts now mainly going to far eastern interests in such places as China and South Korea, the company is looking to alternative markets for prosperity. In February 2021, the company acquired the assets of two Scottish based yards along the east and west coasts. Now known as Harland & Wolff (Methil) and Harland & Wolff (Arnish), these facilities will focus on fabrication work within the renewable, oil and gas and defence sectors.

Pioneering twenty-first century offshore and maritime engineering, Harland & Wolff operates throughout five markets, offering six key services. Its Belfast yard is one of Europe’s largest heavy engineering facilities, with deep water access, two of Europe’s largest dry docks, ample quayside and vast fabrication halls.

As a result of the acquisition of Harland & Wolff (Appledore) in August 2020, the company says it has been able to capitalise on opportunities at both ends of the ship-repair and shipbuilding markets where there is significant demand. John Wood, Group CEO commented:

“It is a great privilege to celebrate 160 years of Harland & Wolff. It is a brand that is steeped in history and is now going through a pivotal change that will see it industry-leading once again. We have already started to invest in all our facilities, from Wilma the robotic welder in Belfast to the complete restoration of the Appledore dock gates.

”As technology advances, we are keen to adopt new and better ways of doing things across all of our facilities to ensure we are internationally competitive. As we recruit the next generation of shipbuilder and fabricators through our apprenticeship scheme, you will not just see ships being built under Samson and Goliath, you’ll see work from across all our five markets from wind farm jackets to bridges, and warships.”

Photo: Built by Krupp in 1969 Goliath was once the largest gantry crane in the world. Now it shares protected status with even larger sibling Samson under the Historic Monuments Act of Northern Ireland sitting in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.