‘Major’ work could be heading to Appledore Shipyard if Babcock Marine successfully bids to build a new £200million polar research vessel.

Appledore Shipyard is one step closer to securing its involvement with the construction of a £200million polar research vessel.

Shipyard operators Babcock International has been announced as one of eight contractors shortlisted to build the government vessel.

In January, the Gazette revealed the company was competing for the contract, endorsed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and now has until July 27 to submit a tender.

A Babcock spokesman said: “We can confirm that should we be successful in our bid to win the contract for the new British Antarctic Survey polar research vessel, we would intend to build a major part of this ship at Appledore.”

Babcock will be up against other companies from across the UK as well as in South Korea, Singapore and Norway.

The vessel, once completed, will be an ice-capable, research and logistics ship, which will carry helicopters and have a scientific moon pool.

It will be operated for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) by the British Antartic Survey and enter service in 2019.

Appledore Shipyard is currently building a third Irish naval vessel.