Cruise ships to be built in Britain for first time in 30 years

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The Independent Online

A multi-million pound contract for Cammell Laird to build the first cruise liners in Britain for 30 years, safeguarding 4,000 jobs, was announced last night.

A multi-million pound contract for Cammell Laird to build the first cruise liners in Britain for 30 years, safeguarding 4,000 jobs, was announced last night.

Unions hailed the contract for two 28,000-tonne 400-berth ships, which needs formal Government approval, as a new era for shipbuilding in Britain.

The contract for cruise consortium Luxus (UK) Limited is thought to be worth up to £344m. The liners will be the first to be built in Britain since Cunard's Vistafjord in 1972.

It will secure 4,000 jobs at Cammell Laird's yards in Merseyside, Tyneside, Teesside and Gosport, Hants, and could create a further 1,000.

Charlie Leonard, senior organiser of shipbuilders' union GMB, said: "This deal signifies there is a new era for shipbuilding. Cruises are becoming more accessible to people and there is an increasing demand out there and we are able to satisfy that demand."

Former Labour minister Frank Field, whose Birkenhead constituency covers Cammell Laird's yard in Merseyside, said: "This is fantastic news for the entire country and shows that what was thought to be an old industry which was written off can again be at the forefront of our export drive."

A spokesman for Cammell Laird Holdings confirmed the contract had been signed but said it was conditional on the Department of Trade and Industry granting Shipbuilding Intervention Funds.

The DTI is expected to decide within a month and a department spokesman said the application was being considered as a "matter of urgency".

Ted Gilbertson, north west regional officer for the AEEU union, said the new contract was "tremendous" but warned that shipbuilding had had "too many false dawns".

"Once this is signed on the dotted line by the Government then it will be a time to celebrate," he said.

Cammell Laird had been the front-runner to build roll-on, roll-off ferries for the Ministry of Defence in a contract which last week was awarded instead to a consortium of yards on Tyneside, Belfast and Germany.

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