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The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will visit Belfast this Thursday evening to mark the return of naval ship building in Northern Ireland, Downing Street has announced.

Last month it was confirmed that Harland & Wolff Group as part of the Team Resolute bid was awarded a £1.6bn Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract to develop and build the next generation of Fleet Solid Support Ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). .

The RFA newbuild trio will provide global logistics and operational support to the Royal Navy. In addition the role of these replenishment vessels will include the essential QE aircraft carrier-led Maritime Strike Group when on deployment.

The Prime Minister's two day visit to NI, is expected to highlight “the UK-wide nature of the project” and that it “demonstrates how intertwined Northern Ireland’s economy is with the rest of the UK.”

The visit of Mr Sunak represents the first official visit to Northern Ireland since he took office in October.

More from Belfast Telegraph of the PM's visit that will emphasise in the boosting of the UK’s naval shipbuilding capabilities for the future and secure job creation at the famous H&W shipyard. 

Published in Shipyards

Shipbuilder the Harland & Wolff Group is set to help construct three crucial support ships in a £1.6 billion contract from the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) with the vessels to serve the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the MoD has selected a preferred bidder with the Belfast firm that are part of Team Resolute, which includes BMT and Navantia UK.

The contract follows Harland & Wolff recent announcement that it will work with private credit manager Astra Asset Management as exclusive financing partner to support its strategic growth plans.

It is expected that the MoD contract is to create 1,200 jobs across the Group's shipyards of Belfast and Appledore (England) which will build the majority of blocks and modules while Arnish and Methil (Scotland) manufacture components. In addition 800 jobs will be generated across the UK supply chain.

A further 300 jobs in the UK will be trained at Harland & Wolff’s welding academy during the contract period which will also involve Navantia’s shipyard in Cadiz, Spain.

The newbuild trio will provide munitions, stores and provisions to the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates deployed at sea, subject to HM Treasury and Ministerial approval.

All three newbuilds will be finally assembled in the Group's Belfast shipyard with the 216 metre vessels, each the length of two Premier League football pitches. They will built to the Bath-based BMT and to an entirely British design.

The ships will be the second longest UK military vessels after the 284 metre Queen Elizabeth (QE) class aircraft-carriers which involved modular parts completed at Appledore, the north Devon shipyard which was then under different ownership until the Group's acquisition in 2020.

The last vessel built by the shipyard in Queens Island, east Belfast was the ro-ro freighter Anvil Point which was launched in 2003. A fleetmate of the 'Point' class series, Afloat reported made a call to Dublin Port almost a decade ago. 

To read more on this significant shipbuilding contract as part of the UK's National Shipping Strategy, click here. 

Published in Shipyards

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