Progress made to salvage UK shipbuilding
Fri, 11 April 2014
Progress is being made to rescue the future of UK shipbuilding as Lambert Smith Hampton is appointed to act as the marketing agent for a major facility at Portsmouth Dockyard.
This comes as defence and security giant, BAE Systems, announced last November it plans to end shipbuilding at its facilities within the Royal Navy base, though it will continue its ship maintenance activities.
Lambert Smith Hampton is responsible for marketing the facilities totalling some 75,000m² which will be available for commercial use.
“Major facilities like this do not come on to the market very often, so we expect to see considerable interest from companies operating in the marine, defence, aerospace and general engineering sectors, from both the UK and overseas. It is one of the unique opportunities that demands a closer look,” said Robin Dickens, a director at Lambert Smith Hampton.
It is understood there are a number of parties who would like to move into the yard. A consortium called the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group, that builds small and medium commercial/naval vessels for the domestic and export markets, is fighting to keep commercial building in Portsmouth.
Sarah Stanton, a spokesperson for the Group, told Maritime Journal: "The appointment of Lambert Smith Hampton is very positive and shows commitment from the Government to retain shipbuilding in the city and expedite the tender process. Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group are in discussion with Tier1 yards interested in a joint venture to build commercial vessels."
She went on to add that "demand for shipbuilding on the South Coast in new innovative sectors, coupled with a state-of-the-art facility, skilled local workforce and maritime heritage, provides a major opportunity to 're-purpose' Portsmouth and create a maritime centre of excellence which is a very exciting prospect".
Another keen player is Aurora Ventures, which plans to build 20 specialist vessels for the tidal power industry and wants to keep the building within the UK – providing the government can provide underwriting to give the project commercial viability. The government is yet to make a decision.
German shipbuilder Hammonia Reederei is also in for a slice of the action, but says the indecision over the yard may mean that it goes elsewhere to build, namely France or Dubai.
Facilities on offer at the yard include the ship hall, two docks, plate cutting facilities, workshops with overhead craneage, stores and administration offices.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) says it is looking for companies which will use the unique opportunities presented by the site and its skilled workers, which are set to lose their jobs in September following BAE Systems’ decision to up sticks to the Clyde in Scotland.