Cammell Laird has won a government contract to build a state-of-the-art £200m polar research ship, securing hundreds of jobs at its Birkenhead shipyard in Merseyside.
The 187 year-old company beat off competition from rivals in Europe and the far east to win the deal to build what the government claims will be one of the most sophisticated floating research laboratories operating in the polar regions.
The vessel will be equipped with a heli-deck, robotic submarines and so-called marine gliders that will collect data on marine biology and deliver it to scientists working on-board.
Work at the Birkenhead shipyard is due to start in the autumn of next year ready with the vessel ready to set off to Antarctica or the Arctic by 2019.
The project is expected to create 400 jobs at Cammell Laird and a further 100 jobs within the local supply chain. The company also plans to recruit 60 apprentices throughout the term of the contract.
“Being selected as the preferred bidder in a global tender to undertake such an exciting and major infrastructure project is fantastic news for our workforce, the local region and the UK. We look forward to helping the UK explore the depths of the ocean and push the boundaries of UK science,” chief executive John Syvret said.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “In last year’s Budget I committed £200m to help put Britain at the forefront of polar research, and I’m delighted to see the preferred bidder is a UK company in the heart of our Northern Powerhouse."
“This will help secure vital jobs and apprenticeships in the North West and also make sure Britain stays at the cutting edge of polar research,” he added.