Northern Ireland

Harland and Wolff shipyard may link up with Spanish shipbuilder

Harland and Wolff shipyard
Image caption The Belfast shipyard is currently being purchased by London-based energy firm InfraStrata

The Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast could be in line to do work for Spain's state-owned shipbuilder.

InfraStrata, which is in the process of buying Harland and Wolff, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Navantia.

InfraStrata said the non-binding agreement is the first step towards a formal working relationship.

Navantia is one of Europe's largest shipbuilders with about 5,500 employees.

It is currently bidding for the contract to build up to three support vessels for the UK Royal Navy.

The Fleet Solid Support (FSS) contract is worth around £1.5bn.

Navantia has said it wants to maximise the amount of UK content in its FSS offering so a relationship with Harland and Wolff would be useful to the firm.

The tendering process for the FSS vessels was effectively suspended by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) earlier this month.

The MoD said the decision was made to ensure ongoing value for money for the contract.

The MoD will review the FSS tender process and the next government will have to decide how to proceed.

John Wood, chief executive officer of InfraStrata, said: "We are very excited by the opportunity that this MoU presents InfraStrata and the Harland and Wolff business.

"Navantia is world renowned for its ship building capabilities and offshore infrastructure expertise and experience, and therefore has access to significant commercial opportunities in these sectors.

"The combination of Navantia's footprint in these sectors and Harland and Wolff's fabrication and other support capabilities offers the ideal commercial environment to bring large and challenging projects to successful fruition."

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