Two former Royal Navy offshore patrol vessels built by Hall Russell in Aberdeen and which for years were on Falkland Islands service have been sold to Bangladesh's navy.
HMS Leeds Castle and HMS Dumbarton Castle entered service in 1982 and protected the fishing fleets and oil and gas fields in the North Sea before long-term duty guarding the Falkland Islands after the war. Ship repair yard A&P Tyne will overhaul the vessels and will train 66 Bangladeshi sailors to operate them.
The ships, fitted with flight decks capable of supporting Sea King helicopters, have been laid up in Portsmouth Naval Base since their retirement from service in 2005. They will be towed up to Tyneside next month to undergo a massive overhaul.
Delighted Managing director, Stewart Boak, said: “We have a tremendous amount of work to deliver over the next three months to ensure the two ships are completed and handed over to the Bangladeshi Navy.” The A&P Group has been negotiating to clinch the contract for six months.
Mr Boak and colleague John Paine, A&P Group Technical Program Manager, flew out to Bangladesh to tie up the deal by signing the contract at a ceremony at the Naval headquarters in Dhaka.
Mr Boak, whose return was delayed several days due to the volcanic ash air crisis, said it was great to be bringing such a vital order back to Tyneside. He said: “It is a tribute to all the partners involved that we now have the opportunity to carry out the work in the North East, securing employment for up to 100 staff and subcontractors in the face of the recession.”
The project will include the overhaul of the vessels' main engines, gearboxes, shafts and motors, the installation of new diesel generators and deck cranes and an upgrade of the crew’s accommodation. He said the yard—which has a workforce of 210 and boasts the largest dock on the east coast of England with two deep water berths—will be welcoming the ships and Bangladesh naval crew in May.