SOUTH TYNESIDE FIRM WINS £150m ROYAL NAVY CONTRACT
Jobs could be created after a South Tyneside-based firm secured a multi-million pound Ministry of Defence contract to repair and restore three Royal Navy ships.
UK Docks, which is based in River Drive, South Shields, has dry docks on the Wear and Tees will maintain survey ships HMS Enterprise and HMS Echo as well as ice patrol ship HMS Protector.
The contract, worth an expected £150 million will help to safeguard more than 130 jobs, with the company, for the next decade, while also creating at least another 20 more.
The company's marine-related supply chain is also set to benefit as repairs and maintenance will be needed to be carried out.
The deal, announced by Defence Minister Stuart Andrew, is part of a wider £1bn deal, securing jobs in shipyards throughout the country, and covers 17 ships.
Director Jonathan Wilson said: "It's fantastic news for us - the successful conclusion of months of hard work put into bidding for these contracts - and it takes us to another level as a company. "It's an exciting time for UK Docks - a great opportunity and responsibility we have been given by the Ministry of Defence - and we will rise to all expectations.
"We are very proud of our North East origins and it is great to see these contracts being serviced for the country by a company based in the region.
"We will be managing, coordinating and planning all maintenance activity from our facilities on Tyneside, but noting our dry docks on Teesside have the capacity to service all three vessels, whenever it is possible, the servicing work on them will be carried out there."
UK Docks, which was started in South Tyneside as a small boatyard on the Tyne, more than 20 years ago, has grown to become a national and international organisation.
Defence Equipment and Support acting Chief of Materiel Ships, Neal Lawson said: "Through the placing of these contracts and making changes to the way we provide support under this agreement, we will be able to deliver significant financial benefits.
"These include savings expected to be more than £100 million over the course of ten years, as well as improvements in the performance, reliability, safety and sustainability of the RFA and hydrographic fleets."
Mr Andrew said: "This £1bn deal secures work for some of our world-leading shipyards into the next decade, supporting over 700 jobs for workers to ensure our ships remain at sea to defend the nation.
"This vital work is not only great news for our Navy, but also underlines the importance of defence to our national skills and prosperity."