Titanic shipyard Harland & Wolff wins contract for Cunard’s Queen Victoria - largest cruise ship ever to dry dock in a UK shipyard

Harland & Wolff has won a contract to work on the largest cruise ship ever to dry dock in a UK shipyard - the Queen Victoria.

By Philip Bradfield
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 11:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 2:33 pm
The Queen Victoria Cruise Ship is coming to Belfast for work in May. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

The company will undertake works on P&O cruise ship Aurora and Cunard’s Queen Victoria in its iconic 81-acre Belfast shipyard this summer.

The contract comes as part of an ambitious ‘reactivation’ strategy for the future which it hopes will maximise opportunities from plans to build over 150 UK domestic vessels in the coming years.

Harland & Wolff group CEO, John Wood, said: “When acquiring the assets of Harland and Wolff (Belfast) in December 2019 and in a pre-pandemic period, the cruise industry was one of our key target markets.

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“Our facilities are ideally placed to capitalise on these types of large projects whilst we continue servicing our smaller but regular clients. We have now secured contracts in four out of our five markets; commercial, cruise & ferry, renewables and energy – we now look forward to completing the final milestone of securing a defence contract in the near future.”

Carnival UK, vice-president maritime, David Varty, said: “We are delighted to be able to have these two ships at a UK shipyard with such a long heritage and reputation and we very much look forward to supporting the UK maritime industry and working closely with the Harland & Wolff team on this project.”

The works due to be undertaken to both ships are standard drydocking operations that will give Harland & Wolff the opportunity to demonstrate to the wider cruise industry its skills, capabilities and expertise in these types of projects.

The first ship to dock under this agreement will be Cunard’s Queen Victoria that entered service in December 2007. With a length of 294m and a beam of 32.3m, it will be in the yard from 2–19 May this year. Queen Victoria will be the largest cruise ship ever to have drydocked in a UK shipyard and the only Cunard ship to have ever drydocked in Belfast.

The second ship is P&O Cruises’ Aurora that entered service in May 2000. With a length of 270m and a beam of 32m, it will be in the yard from the 9–23 June.

The arrival of these ships in Belfast will mark another milestone completed in relation to the Harland & Wolff’s reactivation strategy across its key markets, the company said.

Harland & Wolff’s strategy has been very clear, it says; To operate in five markets and six service sectors to ensure continuity of projects and to provide longevity of employment for the core workforce. This will result in improved productivity and reduced project costs for vessel owners.

With the recent release of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS), the company says, repairs & maintenance projects as well as through life support services are key activities that will facilitate the continuity of skills and enhance productivity levels that will be required to win new build projects. There are over 150 domestic vessels to be built in the coming years in addition to the fabrication works for the renewables sector following the latest ScotWind licensing round and future licensing rounds yet to be announced.