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Harland & Wolff Wins First Government Contract to Restore Mine Hunter

Harland Wolff shipyard UK
HMS Quorn will be refurbished before being handed over to Lithuania in 2024 (MOD photo)

Published Jul 14, 2022 3:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

Efforts to build a new Harland & Wolff business group are continuing to move forward with the company confirming today that it has received its first government defense contract. The contract, which is a refurbishment project, will provide significant work for the Appledore shipyard in the UK’s southwest and is also being promoted as another step in the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy to revitalize its shipbuilding industry.

Harland & Wolff has been awarded a £55 million ($65 million) contract to refurbish a former Royal Navy mine-hunting vessel, HMS Quorn, which will then be delivered in 2024 to the Lithuanian Government in a deal first announced in 2020. According to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, the return to service of the vessel, which had been retired in 2017, will add to NATO’s capabilities across Europe. HMS Quorn is the third mine-hunting vessel sold to Lithuania by the UK.

“The work will see an influx of contractors for the project across the local and national supply chain, with 14 major subcontract packages in engineering, equipment, and integration, along with other refurbishment services. Tailored for the Lithuanian Navy, the work includes upgrades to the ship’s mission and sonar systems, and an additional search and rescue capability. The contract will also add new main engines, generators, and propulsion gear as well as refurbish the accommodation, hull, ancillary systems, electrical systems, and painting,” according to the Ministry of Defence.

Commissioned in 1989, HMS Quorn completed 27 years of service with the Royal Navy before being sold to Lithuania in April 2020. The vessel was part of the Royal Navy fleet of Hunt Class Mine Countermeasures Vessels (MCMVs). The Hunt Class vessels specialized in active mine-hunting. They use high-definition sonar to scour seabeds for mines, which are then destroyed by the ship’s clearance diving teams or mine disposal system. Her missions included service in the Persian Gulf starting in 2011. She was later deployed in the Baltic as part of NATO’s security measures before being decommissioned in December 2017.

Winning the contract marks another milestone for Harland & Wolff in rebuilding shipyard activity at several historic yards in the UK. This contract will be carried out at the Appledore yard which was acquired in 2020 by InfraStrata, a UK company infrastructure company, which along with the yard in Belfast and other facilities has emerged as the new Harland & Wolff group. A historic location for the British shipbuilding industry, the yard was renamed Appledore in the 1960s and continued in operations till 2018. 

“This contract has provided the breakthrough that we needed to activate the fifth and final element of our business strategy – the key market of defense,” said John Wood, Group CEO of Harland & Wolff. “The extended process to win the M55 Contract enabled us to showcase the technical and commercial capabilities of the entire group and has now provided the MOD with a credible alternative to the existing industry base. This contract is validation that the government can go elsewhere, recognizing the investment and progress made over the last two years to put Harland & Wolff in a position to execute on such programs.”

Work resumed at Appledore after the acquisition with the yard last fall undertaking its first large reconditioning job for an offshore supply ship. The group has been seeking refurbishment contracts and is also developing work in the offshore industry. Last month, in anticipation of winning the restoration project for the HMS Quorn, Harland & Wolff announced it had acquired another former Royal Navy mine hunter, HMS Atherstone, from the Ministry of Defence. The vessels share parts with the intent to use parts from HMS Atherstone in this project while the yard said it would also explore refurbishing the vessel for non-military uses.