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Belfast Lough

#BelfastLough - This month 50 years ago, November 1968 the landscape of Belfast was forever changed when a giant yellow crane known as Goliath rose from the Harland and Wolff shipyard.

As BBC News NI recalls, it would be joined soon afterwards by Samson, and the pair formed a key part of the city's skyline.

Their role, however, was more than aesthetic; they were the workhorses that helped develop the city's industrial reputation, facilitating the employment many thousands within Belfast and beyond.

To view historic footage of the iconic crane, click here to a link.  

Could the cranes as Afloat previously covered become tourist attractions? click here 

Published in Belfast Lough

#CruiseLiners - New to Azamara Club Cruises is the Azamara Pursuit which was officially named in Southampton yesterday, 28 August.

The 30,277gt Azamara Pursuit writes the Maritime Executive was previously P&O Cruises' Adonia, and she sailed her final voyage as Adonia in February 2018. She has since undergone a two-and-a-half-month refurbishment at Grand Bahamas Shipyard before sailing to the U.K. Here she received further enhancements at Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Azamara CEO Larry Pimentel says the line's third ship will enable it to visit all seven continents next year, notable South America, and to go to 400 ports annually. The ship is scheduled to visit 61 destinations, including 15 maiden calls for the line. The three ships will undertake a joint cruise together going from Slovenia to Venice in 2020.

The godmothers of the 702-passenger ship are Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of Afar Media, and Lucy Huxley, editor in chief of Travel Weekly UK.

Published in Cruise Liners

#BelfastLough - Chief executive of Azamara Club Cruises, the firm which has docked its Azamara Pursuit in Belfast for a £50m makeover, said the project could see the "renaissance" of a bygone industry here, writes The Belfast Telegraph.

Larry Pimentel, whose cruise line is part of the Royal Caribbean family, made the comments as he viewed the progress of his cruise vessel's refit, which is being carried out at Harland and Wolff in Belfast by staff from Newry firm MJM Group.

"It is my expectation that this will be the beginning of a burgeoning trade. We'll come to Belfast and bring jobs for the craftsmanship and the bespoke capabilities of a bygone era. I view this as the beginning of something exciting," said Mr Pimentel who was previously chief executive of Cunard Line and Seabourn Cruise Line.

The Miami-based chief believes that other cruise lines around the world will follow Royal Caribbean's lead by bringing more projects here.

For further reading of the story click the link.

Published in Belfast Lough

#BelfastLough - Chief Executive Robert Cooper has stepped down from his position in Harland & Wolff Group after a 44-year career at the shipyard, where he has been replaced by Jonathan Guest.

As The Irish News reports, he began his career at H&W as an accountant in 1974 and rose through its ranks during a time of great transition including the privatisation of the company and its purchase by Norwegian stock exchange listed Fred Olsen Energy. He had been CEO since February 2003.

His successor, who assumed the new role yesterday (May 1), had been director of business development and improvement for H&W Heavy Industries, having joined the firm four years ago from interior fit-out specialist MJM Group.

For more on the change of chief executive, click here. 

Published in Belfast Lough

#BelfastLough - MJM Group based in Newry, Co. Down has landed a major new deal which will see it refit a major cruiseship at Harland & Wolff in Belfast.

The move writes the Belfast Telegraph, is part of a recent multi-million pound contract between cruise operators Royal Caribbean and Azamara Club and the specialist high-end fitout company, MJM Group. It also marks the first time a cruise ship firm has awarded complete project management responsibility to an individual organisation.

MJM Group will project manage the docking, berthing and refit of the Azamara Pursuit in Belfast this April and the ship will make its maiden voyage in August.

Gary Annett, chief executive of MJM Group, said the deal is a “milestone opportunity” for the company.

"The success of this project has the potential to be a game-changer for the UK maritime industry. By securing this multi-million pound contract we are putting Northern Ireland, and the UK’s marine industry in a strong position to compete for future drydock and refit works," he said.

To read more on this cruise industry contract, click here.

Published in Belfast Lough

#BelfastLough - A bid has been placed by Belfast yard Harland & Wolff on a £1.25bn MoD shipbuilding scheme. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the UK Government wants to build five new ships, each worth £250m.

In September, the newspaper reported that Titanic-builder Harland & Wolff, which once employed 35,000 workers at its peak back in the 1920s, but now is down to a workforce of 115, said it hoped to be in the running for work on the ships.

Now, according to the Financial Times, it is teaming up with companies, including weapons firm Thales — which employs more than 500 people in Belfast — to bid for constructon of the ships.

Last year, David McVeigh, head of sales and marketing at Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries, said: "H&W have supported the development of the National Shipbuilding Strategy and 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".

For more on the story, click here. 

Published in Belfast Lough

#NewHMSbelfast - One of the newest warships for the Royal Navy is to be called HMS Belfast writes The Irish News. 

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon made the announcement as his visited Harland and Wolff shipyard in the city, where the Navy's last HMS Belfast was built prior to World War Two.

The ship will be one of eight new Type 26 frigates joining the Navy's fleet. It will be used to protect the UK's nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.

One of the "City Class" frigates has already been christened HMS Glasgow. They are due to enter service in the mid 2020s.

"I'm hugely proud that the second name announced of our eight cutting-edge new Type 26 frigates will be HMS Belfast," said Sir Michael.

For further comments made by the Defence Secretary on the frigate newbuild click here.  

Published in Belfast Lough

#BelfastLough - The Belfast Telegraph writes that Harland & Wolff has reduced dozens of staff in an "unacceptable" year amid "difficult market conditions" which saw sales collapse and the firm posting massive losses of £6m.

The former Belfast shipbuilder, which constructed the Titanic, saw turnover dropping from £66.7m, to just £8.3m in the year ending December 31, 2016.

As a result Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries turned the previous year's £1m profit into an almost £6m loss.

The company said "in recognition of the very difficult trading conditions" the firm "further reduced its core employment in the second quarter of 2016".

It now has 115 staff, down from 170 at the end of the previous year.

"The directors consider the results for the year to be unacceptable but reflective of the very difficult market conditions in 2016," the firm's strategic report said.

For more on this story click here.

Published in Belfast Lough

#StenaRefit - Refit of all seven ships of Stena Line's Irish Sea north ferry fleet totalling £5m has recently been completed.

The work carried out at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast took over a 4-month period. This involved careful synchronised dry-docking visits being managed by Stena Line’s Clyde-based sister company Northern Marine Ferries. The ferries including freight-only all operate on routes from Belfast to Cairnryan, Heysham (freight) and Birkenhead (Liverpool). 

The 2017 refit programme was the first time that all seven Stena Line vessels went into dry dock sequentially, which represented a significant logistical challenge for the company. As well as coordinating over 150 specialist onsite contractors, Stena Line also introduced temporary relief vessels to ensure that sailing schedules and customer service levels were maintained throughout the entire process.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Trade Director (Irish Sea North) said: “Our refit programme is a key aspect of our ship management operation to ensure that our vessels operate as safely and efficiently as possible. Apart from the range of upgrades we have made to our onboard passenger facilities, what’s particularly striking about this year’s refit is that the Stena Line fleet now carries our new company strapline emblazoned on the side of our ships...Connecting Europe for a Sustainable Future...which demonstrates our future sustainability ambitions.”

 

Published in Ferry

#Harland&Howth - Harland and Wolff, Belfast has been busy working with Stena Line ferries while in Howth Harbour, Co.Dublin the boatyard there has begun work on a passenger-only ferry that in recent years began running cruises, writes Jehan Ashmore. 

The annual inspection refit contract at H&W is for Stena's Irish Sea fleet which has been underway this first quarter of 2017. While at Howth Boatyard work has just begun on a former Aran Islands ferry St. Bridget, before the passenger-only boat resumes service in late Spring for Dublin Bay Cruises.  

Upgrade work at H&W of the Stena fleet includes main engine repairs, removal and repair of rudders, blasting and painting, deck repairs, repairs to life saving equipment. In addition work has involved technical enhancements of the ferries. 

Stena Europe, Stena Lagan and Stena Mersey and freight-only ferry, Stena Hibernia have been completed and returned to service.

The Stena Superfast X is currently in dry-dock. A replacement ropax Stena Nordica was observed by Afloat.ie in Dublin Port yesterday as this ferry is standing in to the Superfast X sailings on the Holyhead route. The central corridor service is also maintained as usual by route partner Stena Adventurer. 

The next caller to the Belfast dry-dock for annual inspection will be Stena Superfast VIII. A further three ferries are scheduled in the annual programme to ensure the operator's Irish Sea Fleet is running to optimum efficiency. 

Published in Belfast Lough
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