Today, Harland & Wolff is delighted to announce that work has begun to improve the existing fabrication halls at its Belfast shipyard, home to one of the largest deep-water dockyards in Europe. These upgrades will enable the highest quality work to be efficiently carried out during Team Resolute’s Fleet Solid Support (FSS) contract with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, visited the yard to mark the beginning of the civil works and met apprentices set to work on the new contracts. She welcomed the developments as “brilliant news for the whole of the UK”.

As part of the FSS contract, awarded in January 2023 alongside partners in the Team Resolute consortium (comprising Navantia UK, Harland & Wolff and BMT), Harland & Wolf’s Belfast yard will build three 40,000-tonne vessels which will supply the Royal Navy fleet, and many NATO navies at sea, helping strengthen and safeguard the UK’s national security and maritime defence capability. Winning the contract unlocked £77m of investment in the company in preparation for constructing the three ships.

The upgrade of the Belfast shipyard – to adopt state-of-the-art shipbuilding techniques – will underpin Harland & Wolff’s capacity to deliver key naval programmes of FSS and beyond. Over the course of the FSS contract, at its peak, Harland & Wolff is expected to employ 1,200 personnel across its Belfast and Appledore shipyards, with an expected additional 800+ across the UK supply chain.

The improvements to Harland & Wolff’s Belfast site are being undertaken by Cleary Contracting, a local building company established in 1983, whom have been awarded a £multimillion contract to deliver the infrastructure upgrades over the next 18 months, further supporting communities in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. The company expects to create at least 50 new jobs.

In addition to cutting edge automation and robotic machinery capabilities, the improvements include a 5,000m2 extension to the existing fabrication halls and will facilitate up to 16m2 of automated fabrication panels.

As part of Team Resolute, Harland & Wolff’s continued investment in its Belfast shipyard will secure long-term work for the local community. This investment has enabled Harland & Wolff to commence recruitment of new staff in many roles in all departments and upskilling present colleagues in their existing roles.

John Wood, Harland & Wolff CEO said:

“It gives me great pleasure to see shovels in ground as improvement works begin at our Belfast site. Belfast has a long shipbuilding history, and our latest investments will enable the site to continue designing, building and maintaining technologically cutting-edge vessels for years to come. The improvements will give us the ability to take on larger projects at an accelerated pace, using the latest manufacturing technologies, requiring skilled people that will be trained to the highest standard.

“This £77m investment is underpinning the transformation of the yard and will not only support FSS delivery but embed the latest technology across the group to increase our competitiveness in the European market and win new orders across our five markets of defence, commercial, energy, renewables and cruise and ferry.”

Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, said:

“We are a proud maritime nation. More ship building, more work in our base ports for refit and maintenance, and more investment in skills, apprenticeships and technology is brilliant news for the whole of the UK.”

Secretary of State for Defence, Grant Shapps, said:

“Today marks a hugely significant step forward in our Fleet Solid Support programme, that will see three cutting-edge support ships built for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

“Supporting hundreds of skilled jobs in Northern Ireland, the expansion of this historic site hails the beginning of shipbuilding’s valiant return to Belfast, driving prosperity right across the Union.”

John Cleary of Cleary Contracting said:

“We at Cleary Contracting are excited to play our part in the modernisation of the shipbuilding yard at Harland & Wolff Belfast – an area steeped in maritime ship building history.  We have been appointed to complete the construction of the new extension to the fabrication halls and we are locally based to the project, which will deliver approximately 50 jobs during the construction phase, whilst also supporting the wider community in our supply chain.”