Category: News

UK rules out ‘international competition’ for support ships

The UK Ministry of Defence has once again confirmed that the Fleet Solid Support ships will, for the most part, be British built.

Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, said:
“For the purposes of procurement the Fleet Solid Support ships are considered to be warships. This has significance in the procurement route we choose to adopt, and we are not pursuing an international competition. This does not preclude international bidders from participating if they can meet the UK’s national security requirements, for example through a close partnership with UK companies.”

The Ministry of Defence also said previously:
“A competition to build three Fleet Solid Support warships – which will launch in Spring 2021 – will help revitalise British shipbuilding by requiring a significant proportion of the build and assembly work to be carried out in the UK. International companies will be invited to work in collaboration with UK firms to feed in their skills and expertise, but the successful manufacturing team must be led by a British company. This will have a huge impact on the local economies across the UK where shipbuilding is a prominent feature.”

So, what does this mean? Well, it seems foreign companies are expected to be involved in the project, perhaps with some small level of building work done overseas, and their modules will be shipped to the UK to be integrated with the ships.

The Ministry of Defence last year issued a ‘Request for Information’ to industry looking for British shipyards to participate in the Fleet Solid Support Ship programme. 

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Harland & Wolff in winding up row with the taxman

The Belfast-headquartered company Harland & Wolff, which is vying to build the replacement Royal Yacht, was served with a winding-up petition in relation to one of its subsidiaries last Tuesday by HM Revenue & Customs, according to a High Court filing.

Harland & Wolff said the legal claim, which if left unresolved risked forcing the business into bankruptcy, was the result of an “administrative error” within the taxman’s systems.

HMRC had “failed to recognise” a payment of £92,275, which later triggered the winding up petition, representatives from the shipbuilder said.

Last week’s row centred on a payment by Harland & Wolff subsidiary Arnish, a 38-hectare development site located on the North West coast of Scotland, on the Isle of Lewis.

It came little more than three months after HMRC issued another of Harland & Wolff subsidiaries, Firth of Forth shipyard Methil, with a winding up petition.

Harland & Wolff is battling against Houlder Limited for the £250m contract to build the replacement HMY Britannia.

The two-party shortlist was drawn up last month after more than 19 companies expressed interest in building the new ship.The flagship is scheduled to launch in the final three months of 2024, entering service at the end of the following year.

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Developing, growing and building the South East regional maritime cluster

As plans emerge that Maritime UK (MUK) is to support several potential stakeholders to establish a South East regional cluster organisation reportedly led by Dieter JaenickeViking Maritime Group,  I do welcome the continued emergence of MUK as a single leadership association for the maritime sector as it strives to act as a conduit for bringing coherent sector support and reduced bureaucracy to add weight to arguments for infrastructure improvements and destination making, to stimulate economic growth.

As the CEO of the UKs largest SME Maritime network National Maritime based in the South East along with 63% of our partnership, I see this as another positive and important positive step to removing the complexity, cost and confusion of the existing UK maritime trade association structure, to provide better support for our sector businesses and to make substantial savings for UK government. This move supports my long-advocated call to reduce the number of maritime trade association bodies in the UK to 3 or less, since Maritime UK were first appointed by Government to do their bidding!

After all, let’s not forget trade association membership is a business cost just like any other. Each is evaluated to see if it has a unique value and if the association has a measurable legislative impact. What we are seeing today is an ever-increasing duplication of services and benefits from maritime trade associations, which no longer offer sufficient value for the sector or their members.

As borne out in the work of the recent National Shipbuilding Strategy refresh, the National Shipbuilding Office has largely been influenced by a selected few large maritime business who are powerfully bound together by common economic interests and a shared set of mentalities. Coincidentally, the same organisations that are the primary funders of MUK & Society of Maritime Industries (SMI).

The refreshed strategy failed to fully represent the position of 99.8 per cent of all businesses in the UK, which of course are SMEs, as these existing maritime organisations simply do not have access to market intelligence or understand the breadth, diversity & capabilities of the UK SME maritime supply chain and so inadvertently, continue to blind-side government departments as to what is possible.

The MUK cluster initiative launched in 2019 by Mersey Maritime Ltd , for a reputed £450k franchise fee per region, which was to create 25,000 jobs, would appear to suggest that they are trying to improve the flow of information but with no real progress in this area, especially around the much lauded jobs target, it is apparent the majority of UK maritime SMES are missing out.

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UK Maritime SMES invited to meet UK government Trade Teams at Seawork 2022

SMEs who make up 99.8 per cent of all businesses in the UK are invited to meet this week with UK government Trade teams at Seawork  .

Vessel builders and marine technology and services companies are invited to join the maritime teams at stand G39, to find out how the Department for International Trade (DIT)UK Export Finance and the National Shipbuilding Office can help you develop and win business in the UK and overseas.

National Maritime  is the UK’s largest SME maritime network. Our objective is to drive trade and growth for SMES. 73% of our partners are involved in shipbuilding and ship repair, marine engineering, ports and logistics.

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UK Consortium Launches SOV Design Concept

The Diamond Consortium of James Fisher and Sons plc and the UK shipowner, Graig Shipping PLC, has unveiled what is described as ”a pioneering service operation vessel (SOV) design concept.”

The ULSTEIN TWIN X-STERN, named ULSTEIN SX221 Diamond SOV, is expected to support the UK’s target of 50 GW of offshore wind energy generation by 2030, as part of its Net Zero Strategy.

The concept is said to be the result of extensive collaboration by the Diamond Consortium, with support from DNV – Maritime and design partner, Ulstein Design & Solutions B.V.

The result is expected to provide a future-proof design to address the increased demand for SOVs, reduce the levelised cost of energy, and deliver high levels of operability, personnel comfort, and sustainability.

The Diamond Consortium is currently in discussion with major shipyard groups to reach specifications in conjunction with valued customers, with the first vessel capable of being completed by the end of 2024.

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Workers walk off fabrication site over alleged non-payment of staff

Workers said they were ‘standing in solidarity’ with subcontractors who they allege have not been paid by site managers.

Hundreds of workers had walked off the job at a fabrication yard in Fife over a dispute surrounding the non-payment of subcontractors, a union has said.

Members of the GMB union said InfraStrata, which manages the site in Methil under its Harland & Wolff brand, failed to pay more than 100 Portuguese workers building renewable energy components.

The sub-contractor managing the staff, Santa Cruz, ordered employees to sit in cabins until payment was made.

However, core staff joined them in a walkout after no wage packets were forthcoming following two days of non-working.

The site is currently building eight turbine jackets for the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm off the coast of Fife at a cost of £1.4bn.

InfraStrata purchased the former Burntisland Fabrication site in 2021 alongside a sister facility on Lewis.

GMB Scotland organiser Dominic Pritchard said: “This is the kind of behaviour you would expect from a cowboy contractor.

According to the GMB, around 200 workers walked off the job at Methil, more than half of those, around 120, are thought to be Portuguese sub-contractors.

In a statement, Harland and Wolff said that “for the avoidance of doubt”, the local workforce have been paid on time and “continue to be paid in line” with their contracts.

It is understood that a lack of movement on union representation was also a factor behind the industrial action.

GMB Scotland said: “All staff have now returned to work and will face no disciplinary action or loss of pay.

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JDR Cable Systems, the global subsea cable and umbilical supplier and servicer, part of the TFK Group, has reached final agreement under the UK government’s Offshore Wind Manufacturing Scheme (OWMIS) on financial support for its new state-of-the-art subsea cable manufacturing facility in Cambois, near Blyth, Northumberland.

The agreement means JDR is on track to begin construction in summer 2022, with a planned opening in 2024. The new £130m UK Export Finance (UKEF) Export Development Guarantee is set to create 171 high-quality local jobs on completion while safeguarding 270 jobs at JDR’s existing facilities.

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Regeneration of former Coryton oil refinery site will create 5,500 new jobs and expected to add £350 million per year to the local economy.

Thames Enterprise Park, a joint venture between ALMCOR and Greenergy, has been given the green light from Thurrock Council for one of the most significant brownfield regeneration projects in the South East of England.

Thames Enterprise Park will revive the former Coryton oil refinery site, initially delivering 3.7 million sq ft of advanced logistics, advanced manufacturing and next-generation energy technology uses. It will create up to 5,500 new jobs.

The development is expected to add more than £350 million per year to the local economy ultimately growing to more than £3.5 billion. It will transform 412 acres of brownfield land into a new commercial district with the first plots expected to be ready for development during 2023.

The development will have sustainability at its core and will comprise state-of-the-art construction to the highest standards of energy efficiency. It will help occupiers to deliver on ESG requirements and feature next generation energy technologies that contribute to the decarbonisation agenda.

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£15m bid to place Appledore at heart of global Net Zero maritime ambitions

As I have recently met with the council on behalf of National Maritime to explore how the centre could come forward to fit with the wider maritime innovation infrastructure and provide interaction and opportunities for shared growth, it is great to hear that Torridge District Council Councillors have voted to support the bid to create the Appledore Clean Maritime Innovation Centre.

The centre, at Middle Dock, a site which neighbours the Harland & Wolff shipyard, will establish North Devon as a global-leading research and development space for collaborative next generation maritime initiatives.

It will feature cutting-edge research and industry partnerships from the University of Plymouth and the Centre for Future Clean Mobility (University of Exeter), as well as offering a range of offices, workshops, a wet lab and aquaculture tanks to provide modern facilities for local and national businesses to innovate and grow.

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The Contract Notice for the Defence Marine Service ‘Next Generation Programme’ is live.

The In Port contract includes a Vessel Replacement Programme for 36 vessels and the delivery of marine services to the 3 Royal Navy dockyard ports. More info here.

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