Co Antrim firm Redbay Boats delivers £2m contract for Belfast Harbour

The two new pilot boats built by Co Antrim based Redbay Boats
The two new pilot boats built by Co Antrim based Redbay Boats

BELFAST Harbour has just completed a £2 million investment in two new pilot boats in a contract undertaken by Cushendall-based Redbay Boats.

The two-vessel deal allows the Harbour to better serve the large cargo and cruise vessels which regularly call at the port.

The second boat, the 'Ben Madigan' has now been delivered to Belfast and joins the ‘Captain Michael Evans’, named in honour of the company’s Deputy Harbour Master who was killed in the Cork air disaster.

Belfast Harbour’s operations director Trevor Anderson said the new vessels were already proving to be a major asset.

“With 23 million tonnes passing through the port annually and a record cruise season this year, it’s great to be able to launch a second, best-in-class pilot boat into service. This additional boat has again been developed to meet the Harbour’s specific 24/7 needs and we’re delighted to have been able to source the vessel from a local supplier.”

Design on the development of the new Stormforce 1650 vessel began five years ago when Co Antrim manufacturer Redbay Boats built a prototype to test the technology.

For Redbay, who celebrate 40 years in business it is a significant contract. The firm, which employs 22 staff and builds 40 boats a year, recently invested £500,000 in a new factory to facilitate the growth of its product range.

Operations manager Gary Fyfe added:

“At 16.5 metres the ‘Ben Madigan’ is the second of a two-boat order to be delivered to Belfast Harbour. It is the largest and most complex vessel that we currently build.

“The design offers several bespoke features including a high impact fender system, a more fuel efficient hull design and dual work and pilot boat licenses, all of which are a first for this type of boat in the UK.”