Infrastrata – the owner of Harland & Wolff in Belfast – has signed a £7m deal to acquire Appledore shipyard in North Devon.

Under the deal, the shipyard will be renamed Harland & Wolff (Appledore) and will be used by Infrastrate to target five key markets; defence, commercial, renewables, cruise and ferry and oil and gas.

InfraStrata CEO John Wood said: “We see Appledore playing a key role in an exciting new era for UK shipyards and shipbuilding; supporting UK industry and revitalising economic growth in the South West.

“Our vision is to transform it into a thriving centre of excellence that creates jobs, trains apprentices and re-establishes this country at the forefront of a new generation of shipyards.”

The shipyard was previously owned by Babcock, where it was used to build sections of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers before being mothballed in March 2019.

Other vessels built at the shipyard include HMS Echo, HMS Enterprise, and HMS Scott as well as a number of patrol vessels for the Irish Naval Service.

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Wood said that across the five sectors listed Infrastrata estimated there to be a ‘£6bn pipeline of opportunities over the next five years’. Wood added that a large programme of smaller vessels would be well suited for construction at Appledore.

Appledore is understood to be able to also accommodate other projects such as steel fabrication for industry and the construction sector. Under its new remit, the shipyard is set to offer ‘complete lifecycle management’ from technical services through to decommissioning.

Wood added: “For decades our outdated and unwieldy shipyards have been in decline and have continued to deliver programmes late, whilst overseas yards have led the way in productivity and efficiencies.

“This is a once in a lifetime chance to re-build, modernise and re-shape the industry with a new generation of shipyards, which can adapt, move quickly and utilise the expertise of a skilled and highly motivated workforce.”

Appledore shipyard features a 119m covered drydock, as well as quays for repairs, outfitting and commissioning.

Commenting on the acquisition, Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions general secretary Ian Waddell said: “The prospect of Appledore being reopened is great news for British shipbuilding and we welcome its purchase by Infrastrata.

“Appledore played a vital role making the complex bows for the aircraft carrier and it could play a similar role by constructing the Future Solid Support ship which the Government must build in Britain in order invest in our regional economies and get the economy back up and running.”