Significant new contracts are due to be announced in the New Year by Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard, it was revealed today.
The news came as the world’s largest car ferry arrived in the yard’s main building dock for essential repairs and maintenance work.
The “health check” on the Ulysses is the first of four being carried out on vessels in the Irish Ferries fleet over the next few weeks by Harland and Wolff.
The Ulysses, the Irish Ferries flagship, has impressive dimensions which dwarf most other passenger vessels.
At more than 200 metres in length and with a gross registered tonnage of 50,938, it can carry up to 1,850 passengers and 1,342 cars at speeds of 22 knots (about 26mph).
David McVeigh, of Harland and Wolff, said the yard was always happy to see its old customers back again.
He said: “2006 has been a wonderfully busy year for us, with almost 60 dockings for ship repair and conversion work, and we are delighted to kick off 2007 with the Irish Ferries contract.”
Mr McVeigh said the diversification strategy at the yard meant that while it was very much alive in the shipbuilding industry, it was also expanding design engineering and civil engineering work.
He added: “We look forward to making some significant new contract announcements shortly after the completion of the Irish Ferries work.”