HUNDREDS of North East jobs were secured last night as two firms were awarded multi-million pound contacts to supply parts for new Royal Navy warships.
AEI Cables in Birtley, Gateshead, has won an £8m deal to provide all cabling and wiring for the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier Programme.
The £3.8bn project will create two 65,000-tonne vessels over three times the size of the current largest ships in the armed forces.
Meanwhile, a joint bid by coatings specialist Pyeroy, of Dunston, Gateshead, and Cape of Wakefield, has already secured a contract to provide £105m of paint and all scaffolding required during the build process.
AEI, which employs 310 workers, will be designing and manufacturing the full range of cable and wiring to supply power, lighting, data communications, fire protection and alarm circuits for the warships. The 2,500km of cable for the project would stretch further than from Birtley, where AEI has its headquarters, to Moscow.
Jim Duffy, the company’s chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to win such a major contract and contribute to such an innovative, ground-breaking project.
“This award recognises our technical expertise and manufacturing capability as our products are required to meet the very highest levels of quality and safety standards.” Pyeroy’s managing director Hugh Pelham said: “Securing this contract represents the culmination of over two years of planning and detailed contract negotiations, and is fantastic news.
“Our collective experience in the marine sector is second to none, and we look forward with confidence to working on the ships.”
Pyeroy is the UK market leader in the provision of specialist protective coatings within the marine sector, and has been involved with over £100m of Royal Navy contracts, including the three present aircraft carriers: HMS Ark Royal, HMS Illustrious and HMS Invincible.
The new carriers will be the biggest and most powerful surface vessels ever constructed for the Royal Navy.
HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are due to enter service in 2014 and 2016 after completion at the Rosyth shipyard in Scotland.
Each ship will provide four acres of sovereign territory wherever they are stationed in the world.
The development programme is being run by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.
The partnership’s director Geoff Searle said: “Once in service, these ships will provide the UK Armed Forces with a vital and extensive naval capability, so it is equally important that we use suppliers who will share the our commitment to ensure we deliver the best ships possible.
“Equally as important, these contracts will support local economies and jobs throughout the UK regions.
“Continuing this level of momentum is essential and the signing of these contracts is testimony that it will continue through 2010 and beyond.”