A longstanding shipbuilders in north Devon is to reopen after being bought in a £7m deal.
Appledore Shipyard closed in March 2019 after owners Babcock said its future was not “secure”, despite the offer of a £60m Ministry of Defence contract.
The site’s new owners InfraStrata said the yard’s ability to cater for smaller vessels was “a market segment that cannot be ignored”.
Unions have welcomed the deal and urged the government to give the yard orders.
Speaking during a visit to Appledore on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the shipyard had a “massive history but it’s also got a great future”.
“What we want to do is to ensure that there’s a good enough stream of contracts coming through to drive jobs and growth here in Devon,” Mr Johnson said.
The yard will now be operated under the name Harland and Wolff (Appledore), after the much larger Belfast site the same owner bought in December last year.
InfraStrata said the yard had been dormant for some time and currently only has one employee – the site manager.
The workforce can be “very quickly ramped up” if contracts for work are secured, the company said.
History of Appledore
- Appledore Yard was founded in 1855 on the estuary of the River Torridge
- It was known as P.K. Harris & Sons until it became Appledore Shipbuilders in 1963
- Babcock International bought the yard in 2007
- Appledore has built elements of two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, including bow sections for the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales
- The company has built more than 350 vessels, including military craft, super-yachts and ferries
GMB organiser Matt Roberts said the union was “absolutely delighted” the yard would reopen, adding it had always been “firmly believed that the yard can be viable and thrive in the right hands”.
Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, also welcomed the announcement, adding the yard needed a “credible and established new owner with a viable business plan”.
“The purchase of the yard is excellent news for the local community, ensuring, as it does, the future of the yard and its workforce,” he said.