Mothballed shipyard set to re-open this summer

Cammell Laird’s former shipyard at Birkenhead on Merseyside may be reopened this summer, its new owners have revealed. This follows talks to secure ship repair and conversion work for the site.

But A&P Holdings, which bought the Birkenhead site for £10m last August, still has no plans to re-open Cammell’s other former yard on Tyneside.

David Ring, chief executive of A&P, told The Engineer he was hopeful that the mothballed Merseyside site could be reopened in late summer or early autumn, following promising discussions with potential customers.

‘We do not have an order as of today – the nature of the ship repair industry means lead times are short – but we have spoken to likely customers in the North West, and are making reasonable progress. I will be disappointed if we do not reopen the yard this year,’ said Ring. As yet, however, the company has no plans to reopen its Tyneside facility.

Before Cammell Laird went into receivership, the Merseyside yard employed a workforce of around 1,200. Ring said the level of employment at the reopened yard was likely to be lower than that, but could not give a precise figure. ‘The workforce required will depend on the size of the contracts we can negotiate,’ he said.Back in August, A&P Holdings faced criticism from union leaders that it bought Cammell Laird’s yards on Merseyside and Tyneside simply to kill off potential competition to its existing ship repair operations at sites including Southampton and Falmouth.

But Ring denied that this was the case: ‘We have been through a review by the Office of Fair Trading, which decided not to refer us to the Competition Commission,’ he said. ‘We will be competing very hard with other yards for all our work, and we have got a lot to do to convince our potential customers that we can do a good job.’ When it reopens, the Merseyside yard will focus on ship repair and some conversion work, rather than venturing into the shipbuilding market, as Cammell Laird had attempted to do before its collapse last year.

Sandy Morris, shipbuilding analyst at ABN Amro, said Cammell Laird’s early success was based on the ship repair and conversion work it built up at the Merseyside yard.