Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Harland & Wolff Shipyard Horn Sounds After 20 Years in Appreciation of NHS Workers

10th April 2020
The Harland & Wolff crane The Harland & Wolff crane

In Belfast’s world-famous Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built, the horn which hasn’t been sounded for more than twenty years, reverberated loud and clear across the city on Thursday night at 8 pm in appreciation of NHS workers. The horn used to signal the end of a shift in a huge yard which had at its peak 30,000 workers.

Harland & Wolff managing director John Petticrew said: “We figured that it would be appropriate because they are unique times we are in, we thought we would sound a  unique alarm. It is quite simple. It is to support all the essential workers who are working, like nurses and doctors and bus drivers, to show our support from Harland & Wolff, just the same as everybody else.”

In what has now become a regular occurrence across the UK on Thursdays, people come out to clap in appreciation of the thousands of NHS and Social Care staff as well as all front-line workers battling COVID-19. Over a period of three weeks, the applause has been extended to many more sectors such as Firefighters, Refuse Collectors and the Police.

The honour of sounding the horn fell to Harland and Wolff’s Health and Safety Manager Paul Beattie. He said, “We proudly applaud the work of all those involved in keeping us safe, fed and cared for and for those keeping the lights on, the streets clean and essential transport moving during these challenging days.”

In the accompanying applause, workers were seen on the top of one of the cranes in the yard.

Harland & Wolff is famous for having built most of the ships for the White Star Line. Other well-known vessels built by Harland & Wolff include the Olympic class RMS Titanic, RMS Olympic and the RMS Britannic. They also built ships for the Royal Navy, Shaw Savill, and Union Castle.

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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Afloat will be focusing on news and developments of shipyards with newbuilds taking shape on either slipways and building halls.

The common practice of shipbuilding using modular construction, requires several yards make specific block sections that are towed to a single designated yard and joined together to complete the ship before been launched or floated out.

In addition, outfitting quays is where internal work on electrical and passenger facilities is installed (or upgraded if the ship is already in service). This work may involve newbuilds towed to another specialist yard, before the newbuild is completed as a new ship or of the same class, designed from the shipyard 'in-house' or from a naval architect consultancy. Shipyards also carry out repair and maintenance, overhaul, refit, survey, and conversion, for example, the addition or removal of cabins within a superstructure. All this requires ships to enter graving /dry-docks or floating drydocks, to enable access to the entire vessel out of the water.

Asides from shipbuilding, marine engineering projects such as offshore installations take place and others have diversified in the construction of offshore renewable projects, from wind-turbines and related tower structures. When ships are decommissioned and need to be disposed of, some yards have recycling facilities to segregate materials, though other vessels are run ashore, i.e. 'beached' and broken up there on site. The scrapped metal can be sold and made into other items.