Hartlepool 'ghost ship' yard in £10m investment plan

Image caption, The Clemenceau arrived on Teesside in February 2009

A company which is scrapping a former French warship is hoping to invest £10m to secure the future of its shipyard when the contract comes to an end.

Able UK is currently dismantling the Clemenceau aircraft carrier at its Seaton Port site near Hartlepool.

The controversial dismantling of the so-called "ghost ship" is due to end next month and the company is planning to build dry dock gates at the site.

It is hoping the move will secure the yard's future and create new jobs.

The Clemenceau arrived in the region in February 2009 and the work was due to take a year, but has overrun by about 10 months.

The vessel was once regarded as the pride of the French navy weighing 30,000 tonnes.

In June 2008 Able UK made a successful bid for the contract to dismantle the ship.

'Rabbit warren'

This sparked protests from environmentalists concerned about the hundreds of tonnes of asbestos on board.

But after a High Court appeal the company won the right to carry out the work.

The company's group development manager, Neil Etherington, said: "The work took longer than anticipated - the ship was a bit of a rabbit warren and it was a complex operation.

"But we have proved we can do it and we are looking to go onwards and upwards.

"We are reviewing our plans for future development - clearly, with one of the largest dry dock facilities in the world, the site has significant potential for a wide range of uses including decommissioning of ships and oil and gas platforms.

"We are undertaking a study into the potential construction of new dry dock gates.

"This would provide increased flexibility and open up new market opportunities."

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