The shipyard, run by Babcock Marine, will be building a fourth Irish Naval vessel after ‘forecasted gap’ in workload.

Appledore Shipyard has won a new £43.1million contract to build a fourth Irish naval ship.

The news will be welcomed by workers, many of whom have been transferred to Devonport while the shipyard faced a ‘forecasted gap’.

Shipyard owners Babcock International Group has announced the vessel will secure work for 280 employees.

The Irish Independent announced today (Thursday) the Government approval to purchase the ship with £43.1m (£53m after VAT) to be built by Babcock Marine in Appledore.

It is understood work will start on the ship this summer, with a completion date of summer 2018, and will join the three others made by the yard.

John Howie, Divisional CEO of Babcock’s marine and technology businesses, said: “We are really delighted to continue to support the Irish Naval Service with these important vessels.

“Our firm role is to safely provide cost-effective, value for money naval platforms that underpin our customer’s increasing requirements to protect their coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone, further enhancing border control capability and maritime security.”

Councillor Jane Whittaker, leader of Torridge District Council said the contract was ‘fantastic’ news for the shipyard workers and their families, as well as the local economy.

She said: “It has been great to watch the developing partnership between the Irish Navy and the shipyard and now that partnership is moving on again with this new commission.

“In the shorter term over the next two years this will provide some well deserved security for the shipyard and its employees, but also equally important in many respects families will no longer have to be parted because their bread winners have had to be redeployed down to Devonport.

“However, while we celebrate this latest contract, which indeed we must, we mustn’t be complacent or take our foot of the pedal, we need to continue in our efforts to get behind the yard in any way possible as it seeks to secure its long term future.”

The latest vessel, LE William Butler Yeats is due to leave the shipyard on sea trials next month, to then join LE Samuel Beckett, which was handed over at the end of April 2014, and the LE James Joyce, delivered in July last year.

At 90 metres long and 2,256 tonnes, the ship will have a top speed of 23 knots and a range of 6,000 nautical miles at its cruise speed of 15 knots.

Comfortably accommodating a crew of 44, with 10 trainee berths, the vessel will have a comprehensive command, control and communications package coupled to the main weapon; a 76mm gun.

It will also be able to act as a mother ship for three fully independent Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats.

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