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TKMS Acquires MV Werften’s Wismar Yard to Build Submarines

TKMS acquires MV Werften Wismar shipyard
TKMS plans to resume naval shipbuilding starting with submarines in Wismar (file photo)

Published Jun 10, 2022 5:03 PM by The Maritime Executive

German defense shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems completed the acquisition of the primary asset of the bankrupt MV Werften shipyard. They plan to restart the shipbuilding operations in Wismar as part of a plan to expand capacity to meet new demand and possibly combine the German defense industry. Planning and design operations are expected to begin shortly, but shipbuilding will not resume till 2024 at the facilities that were idled in January 2022 as part of the financial collapse of their parent company Genting Hong Kong.

“I am delighted that with Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems we have found a new owner who will uphold shipbuilding in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania over the long term and even expand it wherever feasible,” said Christoph Morgen who is acting as insolvency administrator of MV Werften. He said after several months of negotiations, TKMS has signed the contract for the Wismar yard calling it the best result for the insolvency creditors and the region. “However, I am also aware that the road to a fresh start will be long for the employees of the shipyard. That is why I shall continue to do everything I can to shape the transition and to secure employment for as many employees as possible.”

TKMS said the decision to expand its shipbuilding capacity is a result of strong demand, in part created in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Speaking at a press conference to announce the contract signing, Oliver Burkhard, CEO of TKMS said the war in Ukraine had caused a "recalibration of security policy" reporting that naval vessels are in high demand. The company expects that its orderbook will be full through at least 2030.

Starting in 2024, they plan to ramp up the operations and begin building submarines at Wismar. The first customer will be the German government with the shipyard projecting that it will grow to employ 800 people initially. However, TKMS said that based on demand it might also elect to build corvettes or frigates at the yard and employment could rise to over 1,500 at the Wismar site. However, that compares with nearly 2,000 employed by MV Werften, and for most work will not begin until 2024.

“Shipbuilding lives on in Wismar. The new owner, Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, has identified encouraging prospects for the shipyard site,” said Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Minister of Economics Reinhard Meyer during the presentation. “There is an opportunity with Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems to preserve as many jobs as possible in the maritime industry.”

The parties agreed not to disclose the purchase price no the amount of TKMS’ commitment for investment into the site.  However, everyone involved called it a positive development coming quickly after the collapse of MV Werften. Earlier this week, the local government announced plans to extend the transfer company to provide a source of income till at least October for 470 remaining employees from the former MV Werften. While TKMS committed to recruiting from the former employees, and said it would offer positions to all of the trainees at MV Werften, those jobs will not be available till 2024.

“With Wismar, we are sending a clear signal that Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is growing and intends to shape the future of this industry,” Burkhard told the former employees of MV Werften. Earlier this year, in an interview with the German outlet Welt he talked of his vision for a new "champion" for the industry that could include a combination between TKMS and Lürssen or German Naval Yards Kiel to create a powerhouse in naval construction. 

The insolvency administrator has several other challenges to address as he continues to resolve the MV Werften bankruptcy. TKMS agreed that operations at the Wismar site could continue to 2023 which provided Morgen an opportunity to still resolve the fate of the incomplete cruise ship Global Dream. The building hall needs to be empty by the end of 2023. MV Werften had reached 80 percent completion on the first of the two giant cruise ships which Morgen has been looking to sell. MSC and Resorts World Cruises launched by the former management of Genting’s Dream Cruises are believed to be interested in the cruise ship, but it is believed they might complete the ship at a different yard. MV Werften had reportedly also started work on the Global Dream 2 and Genting HK had planned to build other cruise ships at the yard.

A total of eight companies were involved in the bankruptcy of MV Werften. Wismar was the largest location. Several of the supply companies have also been sold and the smaller shipyard in Stralsund was taken over by the city which plans to develop an industrial part at the site. Reports in the German media are suggesting that the German Navy wants to set up a maintenance facility at MV Werften’s site in Rostock.