November 1, 2018 / 1:01 PM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-Babcock to close small English shipyard as orders dry up

(Adds trade union comment)

EDINBURGH, Nov 1 (Reuters) - British engineering and defence firm Babcock International said on Thursday it was closing its Appledore shipyard in Devon, a “difficult” decision after orders ran out.

Babcock said it hoped to offer all 199 employees at Appledore positions at other Babcock facilities, such as nearby Devonport, which is a British Navy dockyard.

The southwest England Appledore yard completed an Irish Navy order for an offshore patrol vessel in the last few weeks but was not engaged in any orders from Babcock’s main client, Britain’s Ministry of Defence.

It had not had any new work for some time, a source familiar with the situation said. The cost of closing the site, the lease of which runs out in March, will be disclosed at a half year announcement later this month.

Trade union Unite said Appledore’s fate had been speeded up because of the loss of a contract to Italian yard Fincantieri, and a lack of support for British shipyards by the government.

“We urge Babcock to think again and for the Ministry of Defence to drop its ideological obsession with international competition and build support vessels for our Royal Navy ships in UK ship yards,” it said.

That policy threatened the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast too, it said.

In 2017/18, Appledore contributed around 24 million pounds ($31 million) of the group’s total underlying revenue of 5.4 billion pounds.

“Babcock very much regrets having to take this course of action and recognises the impact it will have on its dedicated and professional workforce,” the group said in a statement. (Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary; editing by Stephen Addison and Elaine Hardcastle)

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