Harland & Wolff fails to win key ferry contract

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The Independent Online

The struggling Harland & Wolff shipyard has failed to win the contract to build a new ferry for service in Northern Ireland.

The struggling Harland & Wolff shipyard has failed to win the contract to build a new ferry for service in Northern Ireland.

Just hours after the firm confirmed plans to cut hundreds of jobs at its Queen's Island, Belfast, works in a desperate bid to stay in business, the province's regional development minister Gregory Campbell announced the order was going to a firm on Merseyside.

The £2.6 million ferry for the Portaferry to Strangford crossing at Strangford Lough, Co Down, is to be built by McTay Marine.

A spokesman for Mr Campbell's department said competition for the contract had been strictly governed by EC regulations, and confirmed Harland & Wolff had tendered.

He said the marine consultants had felt their design was not capable of meeting the required performance specifications, and their price - understood to be £4.4 million - was too high.

The new ferry will carry cars, heavy goods vehicles and up to 260 passengers and is to be completed in 12 months time.

Unions fear up to 1,000 of the 1,250 jobs could go as part of plans for major restructuring at the yard even though it is to get most of a disputed £23 million owned by a US company.

Global Marine has been told it must pay the money, more or less the price of the delivery instalment for a second sophisticated drill ship.

The announcement last night followed a critical arbitration hearing in London.

Defeat would have meant the yard, where the Titanic was built, sinking as well. But it still will not stop "significant" job losses.

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