A North East marine services company has secured a £250m order from the Royal Navy which will create more than 100 new jobs.
South Shields firm UK Docks currently services HMS Protector, the Royal Navy’s only icebreaker. at its dry docks on the River Tees, and will now service five more vessels over the next eight years. Support for HMS Tamar, HMS Spey, HMS Medway, HMS Trent and HMS Forth will be undertaken by UK Docks until 2031 at its yards in South Shields and Gosport, Hampshire.
UK Docks Marine Services was originally founded by redundant ex-Swan Hunters’ worker Harry Wilson in a single boat repair yard in South Shields in 1995. In 2018 the company won a £150m, 10-year contract with the navy to service several of its smaller vessels, and the new deal worth £250m has been described as a vote of confidence in the company and its workers.
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Managing director Jonathan Wilson, the founder’s son, said: “We are delighted to have secured this new contract, which is the culmination of several years’ work showing UK Docks can deliver the highest standards of service and professionalism the Royal Navy requires for the maintenance of its vessels.
“To have been selected by the Ministry of Defence to support and maintain these five vessels ahead of some of the most historic and prestigious companies operating in this sector is an honour and a responsibility that we are very much aware of. The new contract is also a vote of confidence in UK Docks’ management and workforce and a recognition of the services that we have provided to the MoD over the last two decades.
UK Docks managing director Jonathan Wilson (Image: UK Docks/Graeme Anderson) “We see the awarding of this contract to UK Docks as a resounding vote of confidence in homegrown British industry, skills and capability and we look forward to putting those resources at the service of these five important vessels.”
The five Navy ships are offshore patrol vessels designed to be deployed globally to carry out duties include humanitarian support, maritime defence and anti-piracy, counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling measures. The vessels are 90 metres long and have a range of more than 5,500 nautical miles and a top speed of more than 20 knots.
Mr Wilson added: “Because of their long-term deployment overseas, it means UK Docks’ staff will be doing a lot of travelling abroad to carry out inspections and oversee maintenance, updates and improvements. It’s a logistically demanding job but once that we are very much capable of as a team and which we are very much looking forward to beginning.
“The new contract will create dozens of jobs here, based primarily in South Shields and in our docks at Gosport on the south coast. We also expect well over 100 sub-contractor roles to be created to provide the capability and availability of support needed at reach to fulfil the contract where we will deliver remote support, technical, logistical and design agent services and management.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Working closely with our industry partners, we are securing a future for these versatile and important Royal Navy ships, delivering on our promises for UK prosperity and sustained UK presence overseas. The project will also ensure more than 100 UK jobs are supported, contributing to the vibrant health of our shipbuilding industry.”
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