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TonyMWeaver

Harland and Wolff: Administrators expected on Monday

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The Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is expected to be placed into administration later. It puts 130 jobs at risk and could spell the end of the iconic business.

Its best known vessel is the Titanic, which was built at the yard between 1909 and 1911. At its height, Harland and Wolff employed more than 30,000 people.

The firm had been up for sale amid serious financial problems at its Norwegian owner. "It seems increasingly unlikely that a solution will be found in the short term and the company may indeed have to go into administration," DUP MP Gavin Robinson told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme. "We've pulled all the political levers that we can."

Unions want the shipyard to be nationalised, a call that has been backed by the Labour Party, but the government has said the crisis is "ultimately a commercial issue".

Mr Robinson said Harland and Wolff had asked the government for shortfall funding of £650,000, which would have given the company "breathing space" for the month of August "so that they could explore other options".

He added: "The official advice is that it cannot be done for three reasons: there is no order book at present so the money would be going in with no generation of product or profit; and there was no ability to secure the loans or pay them back; and it would also conflict with state aid rules."

Last Monday, workers said they had taken control of the site and established a rota to ensure their protest continued around the clock. The shipyard was founded in 1861 by Yorkshireman Edward Harland and a German, Gustav Wolff. By the early 20th Century, it was the world's most prolific builder of ocean liners. It was one of Northern Ireland's key industrial assets during World War Two, producing 140 warships, 123 merchant ships and more than 500 tanks. Its workforce reached a peak in the post-war years when it employed about 35,000 people. By the late 1950s, the yard was facing increased global competition and the impact of the rise of air travel.

 

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Full Story: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-49165896?fbclid=IwAR3pEKqv7_Mut0-Q5PZl0NKmeNcCi40ECGWkFbNjRYU7QseHull7TOXoI_o

Edited by TonyMWeaver

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Thanks Tony.  End of an era.  And an era that we will morn at leisure.

Can you imagine a shipyard today, building a passenger ship that sinks on its maiden voyage with the loss of over 1000 lives, then surviving for another 100 years with great affection?  Today we have to have instant blame and instant punishment for anything that goes wrong, especially when the thing that has gone wrong is seen as having been avoidable and particularly when attributable to cost-cutting.  If Titanic had happened in today's unforgiving culture, Harland and Wolff would have been closed down within 3 weeks!

 

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51 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Thanks Tony.  End of an era.  And an era that we will morn at leisure.

Can you imagine a shipyard today, building a passenger ship that sinks on its maiden voyage with the loss of over 1000 lives, then surviving for another 100 years with great affection?  Today we have to have instant blame and instant punishment for anything that goes wrong, especially when the thing that has gone wrong is seen as having been avoidable and particularly when attributable to cost-cutting.  If Titanic had happened in today's unforgiving culture, Harland and Wolff would have been closed down within 3 weeks!

 

You could say the same about Boeing, they have taken a hit but no question of them going under, after the recent crashes.

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H & W are one of the few yards which could service both lengths of the E-Flexer which would also tie in with Stena's ongoing £7m maintenance & repair contract for their 3 Superfasts and Mersey based Visentini's... Stena spent a further £5m there over the winter on refits too. Maybe there's a solution there?

 

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I thought the H&W site was just a tourist attraction - obviously not!  I cannot see BF putting any work in their direction (but would like to be proven wrong).

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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

Thanks Tony.  End of an era.  And an era that we will morn at leisure.

Can you imagine a shipyard today, building a passenger ship that sinks on its maiden voyage with the loss of over 1000 lives, then surviving for another 100 years with great affection?  Today we have to have instant blame and instant punishment for anything that goes wrong, especially when the thing that has gone wrong is seen as having been avoidable and particularly when attributable to cost-cutting.  If Titanic had happened in today's unforgiving culture, Harland and Wolff would have been closed down within 3 weeks!

 

Maybe Gareth although there's no evidence of cost cutting, the Titanic was a victim of maritime & technological ignorance plus owner arrogance typical of the era rather than build quality. That may have been different if she was the first of the three but Olympic was 99.9% built to the same specification - lighter because there was less steel in her - and she had a full life plus when Britannic (Gigantic) was sunk in 55 minutes off Greece during WWI the death toll was less than that of Costa Concordia even though many of those on board were infirm. The three of them were built very, very well.

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To be quite frank, I don't understand why people rave about the 'Titantic' so much. The ship didn't complete her 1st voyage yet it's mentioned every year on the same date. It did make a good film though.

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14 minutes ago, TonyMWeaver said:

To be quite frank, I don't understand why people rave about the 'Titantic' so much. The ship didn't complete her 1st voyage yet it's mentioned every year on the same date. It did make a good film though.

Plus naming a hotel and various other attractions after the  Titanic to me is bizarre , I would be inclined to steer clear of anything named Titanic . 

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3 hours ago, cvabishop said:

The Britannic was outbound to the war zone and had onl;y a few patients on board I believe.

Over 1000.

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Don't think you are right there Jonno. Why would an outbound hospital ship have been carrying 1000 sick people into a war zone? The records state that there were 1065 on board, 675 crew, 315 Royal Army Medical Corps and 77 nurses. The general idea was to load up with casualties from the Dardanelles and bring them back to the UK.

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6 hours ago, jonno said:

H & W are one of the few yards which could service both lengths of the E-Flexer which would also tie in with Stena's ongoing £7m maintenance & repair contract for their 3 Superfasts and Mersey based Visentini's... Stena spent a further £5m there over the winter on refits too. Maybe there's a solution there?

 

isn't it also one of the few dry docks in the UK able to handle the Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles Carriers? without the perils of the weather and tide at the current solution Rosyth which while being "High security" is a risky and tide dependant venue.

see here

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17 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Thanks Colin, very interesting article.  Astonishing, really, that this issue was not considered and (at least in principle) resolved before they even started building the Carriers.

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1 hour ago, cvabishop said:

Don't think you are right there Jonno. Why would an outbound hospital ship have been carrying 1000 sick people into a war zone? The records state that there were 1065 on board, 675 crew, 315 Royal Army Medical Corps and 77 nurses. The general idea was to load up with casualties from the Dardanelles and bring them back to the UK.

Thanks Colin, I've just been reading up on her a bit more and of course you're spot on, they were all able bodied with no wounded aboard... god knows what it would have been like if she was mined on the way back from Turkey.

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5 hours ago, TonyMWeaver said:

To be quite frank, I don't understand why people rave about the 'Titantic' so much. The ship didn't complete her 1st voyage yet it's mentioned every year on the same date. It did make a good film though.

I don't think they rave as such Tony, I think it's more to do with the cruel attitudes. Those in the water were basically left to die even though most of her few lifeboats were less than half full, 3rd class passengers were locked in and dismissed as simply expendable and the toll on a huge amount of families in Southampton was seismic as their households lost the main breadwinner. The impact of the loss to the city was twenty times greater than that of the twin towers on New York.

Edited by jonno
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I went to the exhibition in Cherbourg, as Titanic DID call there, was very poignant walking around the same Transatlantic buildings that would have housed her passengers.  

Good link about this, although I never realised that tender ships took passengers out to her.  Two tenders, one for 1st and 2nd class passengers and one for 3rd.  Quite a chaotic boarding, and there were injuries.  I had always believed that she actually docked in Cherbourg, actually docked at the terminal, she didn’t...   My lesson for the day then.

https://titanicbelfast.com/Blog/April-2016/Titanic’s-Maiden-Voyage-The-Cherbourg-Connection/

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7 minutes ago, Khaines said:

I went to the exhibition in Cherbourg, as Titanic DID call there, was very poignant walking around the same Transatlantic buildings that would have housed her passengers.  

Good link about this, although I never realised that tender ships took passengers out to her.  Two tenders, one for 1st and 2nd class passengers and one for 3rd.  Quite a chaotic boarding, and there were injuries.  I had always believed that she actually docked in Cherbourg, actually docked at the terminal, she didn’t...   My lesson for the day then.

https://titanicbelfast.com/Blog/April-2016/Titanic’s-Maiden-Voyage-The-Cherbourg-Connection/

She never berthed at Cobh  Ireland either, her last port of call , she anchored out side the harbour beyond Roches Point and used tenders from the company's own jetty in Cobh 

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Don't knock all things Titanic, I live in Belfast and it certainly has a rich history and not least the boost to our economy over the years from our American friends and the likes :D

And it certainly wasn't H&W who placed the iceberg in her path !!

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Their accounts don't make pretty reading - but these things have always happened and I fear will continue to happen if a government in any shape or form is the customer.

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Harland and Wolff saved from closure

Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard has been sold, saving it from closure.

The yard, best known for building the Titanic, was bought for £6m by the London-based energy firm, InfraStrata.

Harland and Wolff went into administration in August, putting about 120 jobs at risk, after the collapse of its Norwegian parent company.

InfraStrata said it will retain the 79 workers who are still employed. It also hopes to increase the workforce by "several hundred" over five years.

The trade union, Unite, said it expects people to return to work as early as this week.

InfraStrata will initially focus on metal fabrication for its energy projects.

The company's main project is a gas storage project at Islandmagee in County Antrim where it hopes to begin construction enabling works before the end of the year.

It is also planning a separate, floating gas storage facility, but there are complications, including planning permission requirements and opposition from local residents.

InfraStrata has said the Islandmagee Gas Storage Project will initially provide the bulk of the work for the shipyard.

It is a plan to hollow out large caverns under Larne Lough to store gas, something that has been talked about since 2012.

The proposal has some planning permissions, but a key plank of approval is not yet in place.

A marine licence, necessary for work on the seabed in the North Channel off Portmuck, is still outstanding.

Without it, the necessary seabed work can not proceed and the process of securing it can sometimes prove a lengthy one.

There is also considerable local opposition to the gas storage plan on environmental grounds.

In particular conservationists worry about part of the construction process.

Salt water would be used to hollow out the gas caverns, before the brine solution created would be pumped out to sea.

It has been claimed that brine solution could be harmful to sealife in its immediate vicinity.

The company said it would quickly be diluted and disperse and would not be harmful.

An added complication is that the area of the proposed brine outfall has recently been made a protected area.

The North Channel Marine Protected Area has been designated for its important population of harbour porpoises.

Infrastrata will have to supply environmental information on the impact of the proposal as part of the application process, and there will have to be a public consultation.

InfraStrata chief executive John Wood said: "Harland and Wolff is a landmark asset and its reputation as one of the finest multi-purpose fabrication facilities in Europe is testament to its highly skilled team in Belfast."

The news follows a nine-week occupation of the shipyard by workers, supported by their unions.

Unite regional officer Susan Fitzgerald said the workers had "defied the cynics".

"As well as safeguarding their own futures, the workers have sent a message that will be heard across Northern Ireland, most immediately by Wrightbus workers in Ballymena," she said.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith said he was "delighted" by the news and the fact that the skills and experience of the existing workforce would be retained.

"I firmly believe that the shipyard has a promising future and InfraStrata's plans present an exciting opportunity for both Belfast and Northern Ireland's manufacturing and energy sectors," he said.

Accountancy firm BDO, who had been formally appointed to oversee the Belfast shipyard when it entered administration, said the "agreed terms of sale will include the transfer of the remaining employees on their existing terms and conditions to the purchaser upon completion".

"In the interim, it is intended that the remaining employees will be able to return to work in the coming days to facilitate the remaining steps required for the completion of a sale," a BDO spokesperson said.

"This is a very positive step towards securing a sale of the shipyard and protecting and safeguarding the employment of the workforce."

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson welcomed news of the sale.

He said: "The last two months have been uncertain for the workforce, but their fortitude and indeed, the support from their Unions and the wider community, has been incredible.

"Today's announcement not only brings comfort for the workforce who kept their dignified presence at the yard, but Infrastrata have also outlined ambitious plans for growth in the future."

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-49889573?fbclid=IwAR3b5O9Ot93ooQEUhnnlBrm4kbbMyLF34Iwo6iB9OUAit7gFq-ECXM9pU8s

Edited by TonyMWeaver
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So glad to hear this, I live only a couple of miles from the shipyard and drive past the workers protest most days, great to know that these guys will still have a job :D

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