Shipbuilder on the crest of a wave

Cammell Laird

It’s a famous name known across the globe for shipbuilding excellence. Cammell Laird in Birkenhead has had some rocky times over its long history.

But the tide looks to have turned once again for the Mersey yard. This month saw the keel laying ceremony for a new £10m vessel.

It heralded the start of work on the new 74-metre roll on-roll off ship for Isle of Wight ferry operator Red Funnel.

It follows the yard winning the prestigious contract to build the 5,000 tonne, £200m RRS Sir David Attenborough, the world’s most advanced polar research vessel.

Cammell Laird’s management is now looking to use those deals to drive the business forward on a number of fronts – including a bid for the £1.25bn contract to deliver five Type 31e frigates for the Royal Navy.

Bullish chief executive John Syvret reveals the business has ambitious plans across all its divisions for the next two to three decades.

He says: “We have generated around £500m for the local economy over the last 10 years and plan to build on that as one of region’s prime job and wealth creators.

“We have so many attributes, a world class workforce and one of the biggest apprentice training programmes in the region and we have extensive facilities including one of the largest modular construction halls in Europe.

“That, plus our coastal location and established supply chain gives us a massive competitive advantage.”

Syvret says the polar ship contract is evidence of its workforce’s ability to deliver complex, high-profile projects as the prime contractor.
He says of the frigate bid: “This project has huge export potential and we are in talks with 20 navies worldwide marketing our design for this ship called the Leander, which we have produced with BAE Systems.

“In addition, to the maritime shipbuilding, refit and conversion market, our energy division is targeting major opportunities in the nuclear industry.

“We see billions of pounds worth of work in the construction of modules for the next generation of nuclear power stations and other energy and infrastructure projects like the Heathrow expansion, all of which would create thousands of jobs on Merseyside.”

Last month the business revealed plans to ramp up its campaign to win a share of the £16bn contract to support the expansion of Heathrow, following a delegation visit inspecting its bid.

The visitors came to Birkenhead as part of a nationwide tour of the ‘longlist’ of 65 sites seeking to become a hub for pre-assembly facilities for Heathrow’s third runway.

Cammell Laird energy division managing director Jonathan Brown says the company was able to bring heavyweight political support to the visit, a key factor in Heathrow’s requirements.

Cammell Laird is not the only North West shipbuilder on the up. BAE Systems in Barrow has been awarded a £1.5bn contract for delivery of the seventh Astute class submarine and a further £900m for the next phase of the Dreadnought submarine programme.

The deal was announced as defence secretary Gavin Williamson opened the yard’s new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

The latest contract will support around 8,000 BAE Systems submarine jobs, as well as thousands more in the supply chain.