Harland & Wolff's yard in Belfast is just one of many shipbuilding and repair facilities in the UK
Stakeholders from across the UK’s maritime engineering industry and numerous government departments are working together to make the UK a global centre of excellence for cruise ship repair and refit projects.
The UK aims to become a one-stop shop for cruise lines wanting to service their vessels, enabling it to gain a share of the more than £2.36 billion ($2.92 billion) global annual value of the maritime engineering industry.
The initiative is being developed as part of the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, which launched in 2022. It aims to encourage companies in the sector to work cooperatively to create a strategy for delivering repair and refit services and for overcoming current barriers, which include a lack of skilled labour, difficulty accessing international specialists to work on the vessels, and more. In addition, companies would collaborate to develop new products and services, and also consider future infrastructure investment requirements.
The national government has committed to launch a new campaign to promote the UK’s cruise ship refit and repair capabilities.
“The global cruise line industry, apart from during the Covid-19 pandemic, has been a continuous growth market for the last 40 years,” said Sir John Parker, author of the strategy. “European cruising represents a very large target market for drydocking, repairs and significant-scale refits. The opportunity therefore exists to address this market with a competitive and skilled operation that can efficiently deliver a quality service to discerning ship-owning customers.”
Belfast-based shipbuilder Harland & Wolff is one of the many companies involved in the project to create the UK Centre of Excellence for cruise ship refurbishment projects.
“Our company is committed to developing the facilities and the skills to service this industry, but we are just part of a much bigger picture,” said John Wood, chief executive of Harland & Wolff. “There are hundreds of companies spread across the country who can all feed into the work we do. We want to combine our efforts to make sure that, not only the maximum amount of value of these contracts comes from the UK, but also that they draw upon the country’s engineering skills base, supporting and developing Britain’s heritage for marine engineering.
“By identifying the barriers to doing more cruise work in the UK, we can work together across the industry and with government to overcome them. Adopting this approach and creating a global centre of excellence would mean that work that is happening overseas can be completed in the UK.”