Austal Australia has entered into an MoU with UK shipbuilder and maritime service provider Harland & Wolff Group to pursue shipbuilding opportunities in the UK.

The MoU, signed at the 2023 Indo Pacific Maritime Exposition in Sydney recently, includes the transfer of technology, skills and shipyard capabilities required to build the next generation of patrol vessels for the UK for maritime security agencies, stated an Austal release published on 16 November.

Both parties have identified opportunities in the UK market, including the Border Force vessel replacement programme, and will work jointly in a non-exclusive partnership on such opportunities, the released stated.

Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said the MOU was the first step towards winning new business in the UK, collaborating with Harland & Wolff, an established manufacturing, services and support company operating in the maritime defence industry.

“Harland & Wolff is an ideal partner for Austal in the pursuit of defence opportunities in the United Kingdom with the facilities, expertise and capabilities to effectively pursue and help deliver new vessels for organisations such as the UK Border Force,” said Austal CEO Paddy Gregg.

John Wood, Group CEO of Harland & Wolff, said: “As we embark on the next phase of the company’s growth and development, we will be partnering with Austal not only for the transfer of technology to build aluminium vessels but to also join hands with them when bidding for contracts.”

Might Austal’s Cape class replace current Stan 4207s in UK Border Force?

UK Border Force operates a fleet of five patrol vessels, including four Stan 4207-type craft – introduced in the early 2000s –  that are utilised by maritime security agencies around the world. At 42m long, the current Seeker-class patrol vessels are smaller than Austal’s Cape-class design, which comes in at nearly 58m and is utilised by Australian forces, as well as the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.

The regeneration of shipbuilding at Harland & Wolff, which comprises its historic Belfast shipyard and other key UK sites such as the Appledore facility in south-west England, is central to the UK’s efforts to improve opportunities for its maritime industries in both civil and military sectors. Harland & Wolff is part of the consortium tasked with building the UK’s new Fleet Solid Support ships, destined for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

According to GlobalData analysis, Harland & Wolff Group reported revenues of £28m ($34.91m) for the fiscal year 2022 (FY2022), an increase of 51% over FY2021. The operating loss of the company was £58.1m in FY2022, compared with an operating loss of £22.4m in FY2021. The net loss of the company was £70.4m in FY2022, compared with a net loss of £25.5m in FY2021.

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