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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Time 'running out' for shipyard
Appledore Shipyard
Workers at the shipyard are on reduced hours
One of the owners of a north Devon shipyard says time is running out to find new orders.

Employees at Appledore Shipyard are currently on reduced hours as they wait for new work.

John Langham, who is joint shareholder with Jim Wilson, said unless an order was signed very soon, the company would close as they could not continue making heavy losses.

But he said he was still hopeful that one of two potential orders would save the jobs of more than 550 skilled workers.

"The shareholders have poured in a very large amount of money in order to keep the yard going, in the hope we can get one of these contracts which would ensure the yard can stay open," he said.

The last thing we want to see is shipbuilding close down in Appledore
John Langham, Appledore Shipyard co-owner
"We are negotiating on a daily basis, and have been for months, but as of today, we have not been able to complete either of these contracts.

"We can't go on for very much longer just financing the yard with nothing to do as we will run out of money.

"If we don't get a successful conclusion to a deal very quickly, there is not much we can do but close down, but that's the last thing we want."

'Totally committed'

He added: "Jim Wilson and I have been involved in running the yard for about 13 years and we are still totally committed to trying to secure the yard's future.

"The last thing we want to see is shipbuilding close down in Appledore."

One of the hoped-for deals involves a 40m contract with a Plymouth company to build an offshore energy barge.

Mr Langham said: "The owners of these two prospective contracts have got to assemble the finance necessary before they can conclude the deal, and neither has yet been able to do that."

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