Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff enters administration

By
Neil Logan

Northern Ireland's iconic Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff has entered formal administration, with the insolvency request filed with the High Court in Belfast on Tuesday 6th August.

Employees had already received redundancy notices advising that the business would ceasing trading, and had last week taken control of the site in a round the clock protest. Approximately 120 employees are thought to be at risk.

The firm was founded in 1861 and was an integral industrial asset during World War Two, building warships and tanks. It also built a large number of ocean liners, including of course the Titanic. At the peak of its success the company employed 35,000 people, but the last cruise liner was built in 1960 and the business began to decline, relying heavily on subsidies from the government for 30 years. The company was nationalised between 1975 and 1989 before being the subject of a management-employee buyout backed by a Norwegian industrialist, and is now owned by Norwegian parent company Dolphin Drilling. It built its last ship in 2003 and subsequently moved to other areas of marine engineering, carrying out refurbishments and repairs of oil rigs and wind turbines.

Accountancy firm BDO has been appointed as administrators who will attempt to start the sales process again. Calls to renationalise the shipyard have not been met with any real enthusiasm from the government.

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