British Manufacturing: Cammell Laird to build first new Mersey ferry in 60 years

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David McGinley and Steve Rotheram st Cammell Laird. The new ferry will bear the hull number 1,395 - being the 1,395th ship built at the yard. Photo credit: Cammell Laird

British shipbuilding company Cammell Laird will construct the first new Mersey ferry in 60 years in a move which marks a major milestone for the shipbuilder. 

Cammell Laird has a rich shipbuilding history dating back 200 years. Its 130-acre site has four dry docks and one of the largest modular construction halls in Europe. 

In addition to the polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough – which was launched in 2020 and was the last ship to be wholly constructed at Cammell Laird – major projects have included the block build for the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and critical units of the Astute and Dreadnought nuclear submarines on behalf of BAE. It will is also building units for the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Frigates. 

The Birkenhead facility – which is part of the APCL group – has put pen to paper with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority on a deal which will see the new vessel designed and built exclusively on-site. 

The state-of-the-art new Mersey vessel will be designed to harness green technology, with a cutting edge Azi-pull propeller system for reduced fuel usage, along with a diesel-electric hybrid-ready propulsion system – with potential for future conversion to full electric propulsion as technology evolves.

The ferry will also have an exhaust after treatment system which will operate in excess of current UK & international standards to reduce harmful nitrous oxide emissions.

It comes six decades after the last Mersey ferry – which was also built at Cammell Laird – entered service. The vessel will be designed by in-house Cammell Laird naval architects and constructed by the facility’s local workers and apprentices, with a target delivery date of the end of 2025.

The announcement marks the culmination of a process which started back in 2016 and represents a major vote of confidence in Cammell Laird. 

Ferries on the Mersey date back to the early 13th Century and have become one of the most iconic modes of transport in the world. Cammell Laird has a long history with Mersey ferries, having built 15 of the vessels dating back to 1836. 

The new ferry will bear the hull number 1,395 – being the 1,395th ship built at the yard. Other recent ferry projects have included construction of Strangford II, Red Kestrel, Sound of Seil and Sound of Soay.

David McGinley, Chief Executive of APCL Group, said:

“We have always been a global business with a local heart, so it’s fitting that two things which are closely associated with the Mersey – ferries and Cammell Laird – should come together for this latest milestone in the rich maritime heritage of the area.

“It’s a point of pride that we built the last Mersey ferry to enter service and will be doing so again, cementing our place both in the rich history of the Mersey, but equally, in its future too.

“Our apprentices will be working on this project alongside the rest of our highly skilled workforce, and I know this project is something they’ll be equally proud to be involved in.”

Cammell Laird’s award winning apprenticeship programme was established in 1997 and the business is extremely proud that 171 apprentices are currently in training throughout the business.

Source: Cammell Laird

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