Two shipyards in Scotland, run by Harland & Wolff, are positioning themselves to build two new floating dry docks to maintain submarines at Faslane.

John Wood, CEO of Harland & Wolff, recently took to social media to outline the company’s clear intentions and strategic plans for its Methil yard.

In a detailed post, Wood announced:

“Our Methil yard announced last week it’s clear plan to build two floating dry docks at our biggest facility in the UK, the project known as Project Euston has been worked on for several months so we are in a strong position when the bid pack is released.”

Wood mentioned the company’s readiness and capacity, noting that their Methil and Arnish yards have the surplus capacity required to manage this project, while other yards remain engaged with ongoing orders for Type 26, Type 32, and Fleet Solid Support ships.

“Harland and Wolff with 51% of the marine fabrication capacity in the UK are the only yard that will have that surplus capacity between its Methil and Arnish yards at that time to build this project with T26, T32 and FSS keeping all other yards busy with the expected follow on orders.”

Addressing recent media speculation regarding the future of Harland & Wolff’s facilities, Wood firmly dismissed any rumours of closure or mothballing of the Methil or Arnish yards. He highlighted the ongoing growth and business as usual at these facilities:

“Whilst there is lots of speculation in the press Methil and Arnish are clearly front and center of our continued growth.”

Wood also addressed the financial aspects, noting their efforts to secure more cost-effective financing and expressing confidence that political changes, including a potential new government, would not significantly impact their strategic goals:

“I think a certain journalist at the Telegraph has had a few too many glasses of wine over the holiday weekend a “Source” told me earlier. It is business as usual in our facilities as work progresses at pace, are we fighting to get a cheaper rate of finance yes – why not. We do not see the General Election causing us any major issues in our efforts to close the deal. In any event in six weeks time things may change again with a new Government and different Ministers.”

He concluded by reiterating Harland & Wolff’s commitment to their strategic aims and the ongoing development of their key facilities.

“To be clear, we have no plans or intention to shut or mothball either of our Methil or Arnish delivery centres. This goes completely against our strategic aims and increases risks on our other major programs.”

Earlier this year, we reported that the Ministry of Defence had provided an update on the plans for two new floating docks to maintain submarines at Faslane in Scotland.

The confirmation came as a response to a Written Parliamentary Question. John Healey MP, Labour Defence Spokesman, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when his Department plans to tender for two new submarine floating docks.”

James Cartlidge MP, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence), responded:

“An early market engagement notice was published on 7 November 2023 for Programme EUSTON. This engagement will inform the delivery strategy required to procure the planned out of water engineering maintenance facility at His Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde. Following completion of the market engagement exercise this year, the Ministry of Defence intends to initiate a procurement programme for this additional capability. Programme EUSTON is currently in its concept phase and no date has yet been set for the tender process.”

Recently, the Ministry of Defence announced plans to procure two new floating docks along with associated infrastructure for Faslane, the primary hub for the UK’s nuclear deterrent and the home of the Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines.

The AFTDC Programme, as outlined in the MoD’s Prior Information Notice (PIN) published on 7 November 2023, details a strategic initiative to enhance the docking capabilities at HM Naval Base Clyde.

“The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (‘the Authority’) has initiated the Additional Fleet Time Docking Capability (AFTDC) Programme to procure two floating docks and associated infrastructure to be located at HM Naval Base Clyde. As the single integrated operating base for UK Royal Navy Submarines, HM Naval Base Clyde is the home of fleet time docking capability to support submarine availability. Following completion of a period of market engagement with industry, the Authority intends to formally commence a procurement for AFTDC.”

John Healey, the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, queried about the Ministry’s plans in relation to the National Audit Office (NAO) report titled “The Equipment Plan 2022 to 2032,” asking:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the report published by the NAO entitled The Equipment Plan 2022 to 2032, HC 907, published 29 November 2022, whether his Department plans to procure a submarine floating dock.”

In response, James Cartlidge, the Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, highlighted the department’s proactive approach in assessing its needs, stating:

“The Ministry of Defence has conducted an assessment on its docking needs. This assessment has identified that two floating docks are required to enhance the out of water maintenance capability and meet future demand for submarine maintenance at His Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde.”

He further added:

“Market engagement has recently commenced to better understand the delivery strategy required to procure floating docks and the associated infrastructure necessary to create an additional out of water maintenance capability.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jim
Jim (@guest_822758)
1 month ago

It would be really nice if everything in this article were true, I’m highly sceptical, and these dry docks are like the FSSS way to important to mess around with.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_822816)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

If you need the facilities then you build them. Business is good. ships need building and maintence. As long as everything is built properly there should be little problem.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_822780)
1 month ago

Let’s be honest about this these 2 yards are just about on their last legs and for quite some time I have been struggling to understand why H&W holdings bought them. They have the huge facility up at Belfast and Appledore to re energise, and they both have a future pipeline of work. So why buy even more capacity when your struggling to finance your core business. To build these new AFD H&W will have to modernise the infrastructure and expand the workforce, how do they finance that investment and what follows them up. These are neither Warships nor RFA’s… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_822814)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

It’s possible they are seeing the likely spike in demand for steelwork on all the navel procurements as the government try’s to drive forward on delivery as an opportunity and buying up the capacity…fingers crossed they will not overextend , not be able to finance upgrading the yards and suffer the fate of British shipbuilding over the last 60 years…( not enough investment..leading to poor productivity collapsed industrial relations and failure).

Expat
Expat (@guest_822896)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

You may recall H&W was Infrastrata, an offshore energy company. They do have expertise the next government will need in abundance. H&W have done work in offshore for Italy as an example. It also has a tie up with Navantia on offshore wind to go after new business.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_823050)
1 month ago
Reply to  Expat

I did not know how close the link was, although I did know they were doing a lot of the off shore steelwork. To be honest I’m sort of getting to the point that if Labour keep up the orders we could be getting to a very good place in UK shipbuilding. If we can ensure steady orders for 2 yards focused on complex warships ( a steady future drumbeat of 2 ships every 18 months is sustainable if HMG does aim for an escort fleet in the mid 20s and in reality it should aim for around 30 as… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_823004)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yep glad someone gets it. It’s taken 2 decades for HMG to understand the need to get away from boom or bust and provide a logical and constant flow of orders.
The only area we lack is for surface ships above 15/15 K tonnes, the H&W yard provides that missing link.
One of the flaws in H&W holdings buying up extra capacity is that we already have a surplus without any more. CL, Appledore, A&P and Fergusons are all pitching in sub block steel work.

Leemar
Leemar (@guest_822877)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

H&W are looking to get into the renewables fabrication sector which the 2 Scottish yards lend themselves to due to location. They are not just defence minded which is a good idea given history of feast and famine from the governments of the day. Whether they have over extended thats a good question although the company has strongly denied all these rumours.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_822882)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I don’t get this at all.

Overextended management and capital. Sounds very messy to me.

To regenerate a yard for a £1.6Bn RN contract is massive to do that at the same time as this is insane.

The floating docks should just be awarded on cost.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_823006)
1 month ago

SB if you look at the pretty picture just scratch your head. No slipway and you’d need a damn huge barge to launch a floating dockyard.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_823044)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Well at least we have moved on from fantasy fleets to fantasy shipyard capabilities…..

Expat
Expat (@guest_822892)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

The owner are actually from the Energy Infrastructure business.

Personally when you look at Labour’s plans to invest massively in wind H&W have the capacity, the government will need many times what H&W can offer to meet their imposed targets.

Ex-RoyalMarine
Ex-RoyalMarine (@guest_823028)
1 month ago
Reply to  Expat

The Danes have the offshore wind market tied up. Hopefully, Labour might have a brainwave and invest in tidal, it’s not as if we are surrounded by seas and have the second-highest tidal range on the planet. Oh, hold on………….

BB85
BB85 (@guest_822901)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

The bought the yards for political capital. If they own yards in NI, Scotland and the South of England they can push for political influence from just about every political party. The yard workers can move between all 4 sites as they are mainly contractors anyway. Being able to compete for large contracts and spread the work out across England, Scotland and NI is vital for them. If they where only in NI they would soon be ignored.

Mark F
Mark F (@guest_822784)
1 month ago

This is something that is very much needed sooner rather than later. Currently only 1 boat lift at Faslane and since attach subs moved north, it is paramount to increase the “out of water” capability.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_822815)
1 month ago

A demand for this type of facility is the look of a ship building industry in the ascendancy not decline and therefore to be welcomed. It’s not like we are worried about empty docks and redundacy.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark B
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_822868)
1 month ago

How about hauling ministers since the early 2000s over the coals who have ignored infrastructure needs to the point it is now impacting our already minimal SSN force.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_822883)
1 month ago

Pure penny pinching.

Brought on by the investment cuts that Blair/Brown started and the services then had to manage with to keep numbers/capability and then the axe fell with Cameron/Osbourne and any pretence of the long term died.

WSM
WSM (@guest_822924)
1 month ago

With a project name of “Euston” the damn thing is doomed from the outset – permanently configured never to be operational over a Bank Holiday for a start 😂

Coll
Coll (@guest_823011)
1 month ago
Reply to  WSM

Or like HS2. Designed to go to Euston but possibly won’t be built because of lack of funds.

John
John (@guest_823025)
1 month ago

Looks like a 10 year project . Just place the order with South Korea , you will get both docks delivered together on time and within budget all before the UK yards will upgrade their facilities to suit , and find the skilled labour in sufficient numbers required for the job .

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_827354)
1 month ago
Reply to  John

We’re never gonna be able to regenerate any independent capacity if we continue to send work overseas.