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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Shipbuilding returns to River Tyne
Swan Hunter dock
A new dock is being built to launch the MoD ships
Shipbuilding comes home to the Tyne on Monday for the first time in eight years as Swan Hunter begins work on a 136m contract to build two troop carriers.

The Alternative Landing Ship Logistic (ALSL) vessels, which carry troops and equipment, will secure up to 600 jobs for the next three years, and could create as many as 1,500 posts.

The vessels will be the first ships built on the River Tyne since 1993, although oil production and storage vessels have been constructed.

The yard was in receivership in the mid-1990s but is now a flagship for industry on the river.

'Historic day'

Jaap Kroese, Swan Hunter chairman, told BBC News Online: "This shows that shipbuilding is a sunrise industry, and not a sunset one.

"We have 250 apprentices, and don't see any signs of slowdown in our order book.

"It is also some good news after the blow of the Cammell Laird closure."

At its height the Tyne built 25% of the world's shipping.

On Monday at the Swan Hunter yard, Wallsend, North Tyneside, the first sheets of steel for the MoD vessels' keels were being cut and welded.

Kerr-McGhee Glomar
Swan Hunter has built one platform for Kerr-McGhee

Mr Kroese said the contract would not only create jobs at the yard but be a boost to the region's economy.

He said: "It is a historic day for the company, the River Tyne, and the region."

The floating dock from which the MoD vessels will be launched is expected to be completed in October.

Now Swan's hopes to win a 3bn MoD contract to build aircraft carriers, with bidding opening in 2002.

More than 3,000 jobs could be created by the contract which would run from 2003 to 2014.

In August the fabrication yard at Swan's finished building Global Producer III, a floating production ship for US firm Kerr-McGee.

Second US order

The yard hopes to win a second large contract to build another vessel for the Oklahoma City-based energy company.

Negotiations are underway about building a 500-tonne oil module.

A Kerr-McGee spokesman said: "Talks have been going on for some time between Swan Hunter and us, about what would be a second order for them.

"Discussions are continuing but no decision has been made yet."

See also:

17 Aug 01 | Business
Cammell Laird yards bought
25 Jul 01 | Business
Cammell Laird to be mothballed
27 Jun 01 | Business
Management bid for Cammell yard
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