Belfast in the running to build new Royal Navy warship

An image of what the new HMS Belfast will look like. The last HMS Belfast was build prior to World War Two
Gareth McKeown

THE prospect of shipbuilding returning to Belfast has been endorsed by the British defence secretary.

On a visit to Belfast yesterday Sir Michael Fallon said that the Harland and Wolff shipyard once again has the chance to build a vessel as part of a new fleet of multi-million-pound warships for the Royal Navy.

The defence secretary was speaking at the famous shipyard as he unveiled the name of one of the eight new anti-submarine warfare frigates as HMS Belfast.

Harland & Wolff previously built the Royal Navy’s last HMS Belfast, back in 1939.

“It’s apt to name this ship at the famous site which built the very first HMS Belfast. Thanks to our ambitious new National Shipbuilding Strategy, this shipyard once again has the chance to be involved in building a British warship thanks to the competition to build a new class of light frigates for our growing Royal Navy," he said.

Earlier this month the defence secretary suggested that a new fleet of multi-million-pound warships for the Royal Naval and other allied naval forces could be built in blocks across a number of UK shipyards and then assembled at a central hub.

The new Type 31e frigates, costing £250 million each, are due to be in service by 2023.

The defence secretary has personally committed to visiting all of the UK’s major shipyards as part of the procurement process.

Speaking previously to the Irish News Harland & Wolff head of sales and marketing David McVeigh, said he was optimistic that the golden age of shipbuilding could return to Belfast.

"'H&W have supported the development of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. We now look forward to engaging further with the Ministry of Defence and industry partners in an effort to secure work on the T31e programme and create shipbuilding jobs in Belfast."

The last ship built at the Harland & Wolff shipyard was The Anvil, which was launched in 2003. Crucially Belfast still has the biggest dock in the UK, while the firm has been involved for more than a decade in building massive offshore renewables platforms.


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