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Harland & Wolff's Belfast Shipyard Wins Double Cruiseship Dry-Docking Contract from Cunard & P&O Cruises

11th April 2022
Harland & Wolff announce a two cruise ship contract for their Belfast shipyard as P&O Cruises’ Aurora and Cunard’s Queen Victoria (above) are expected in the yard in May and June. AFLOAT highlights the maiden call of the 'Cunarder' to Killybegs with the first visit by the cruiseship to the port  in 2018. Harland & Wolff announce a two cruise ship contract for their Belfast shipyard as P&O Cruises’ Aurora and Cunard’s Queen Victoria (above) are expected in the yard in May and June. AFLOAT highlights the maiden call of the 'Cunarder' to Killybegs with the first visit by the cruiseship to the port in 2018. Credit: Mooney Boats-twitter

Harland & Wolff plc's Belfast shipyard has been awarded a drydock contract for two cruise ships from Cunard and P&O Cruises (see story) respectively that will occupy the Belfast drydock for 33 days in total.

The companies have selected Harland & Wolff’s iconic 81-acre Belfast shipyard to undertake drydocking works on two of its ships, Queen Victoria (related newbuild) and Aurora. 

The works due to be undertaken to both ships are standard drydocking operations that will give Harland & Wolff the opportunity to demonstrate to the wider cruise industry, its skills, capabilities and expertise in these types of projects.

The first ship to dock under this agreement will be Cunard’s Queen Victoria that entered service in December 2007. With a length of 294m and a beam of 32.3m, it will be in the yard from 2nd – 19th May 2022.  Queen Victoria will be the largest cruise ship ever to have drydocked in a UK shipyard and the only Cunard ship to have ever drydocked in Belfast.

The second ship is P&O Cruises’ Aurora that entered service in May 2000. With a length of 270m and a beam of 32m, it will be in the yard from the 9th – 23rd June 2022.

The arrival of these ships in Belfast will mark another milestone completed in relation to the Harland & Wolff’s re-activation strategy across its key markets. Harland & Wolff’s strategy has been very clear, i.e., to operate in five markets and six service sectors to ensure continuity of projects and to provide longevity of employment for the core workforce. This will result in improved productivity and reduced project costs for vessel owners.

With the recent release of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS), repairs & maintenance projects as well as through life support services are key activities that will facilitate the continuity of skills and enhance productivity levels that will be required to win new build projects.  As indicated in the NSbS, there are over 150 domestic vessels to be built in the coming years in addition to the fabrication works for the renewables sector following the latest ScotWind licensing round and future licensing rounds yet to be announced.

Harland & Wolff, group CEO John Wood, commented: “When acquiring the assets of Harland and Wolff (Belfast) in December 2019 and in a pre-pandemic period, the cruise industry was one of our key target markets.

“Our facilities are ideally placed to capitalise on these types of large projects whilst we continue servicing our smaller but regular clients. We have now secured contracts in four out of our five markets; commercial, cruise & ferry, renewables and energy – we now look forward to completing the final milestone of securing a defence contract in the near future.”

Carnival UK, vice-president maritime David Varty said: “We are delighted to be able to have these two ships at a UK shipyard with such a long heritage and reputation and we very much look forward to supporting the UK maritime industry and working closely with the Harland & Wolff team on this project.”

Published in Shipyards
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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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.