As part of the revival of water transportation, plans are underway to launch the first new shipyard in possibly a century or more on the River Thames in London. The Port of London Authority (PLA) is seeking written expressions of interest from shipyard operators with proven maritime repair, maintenance, and build capability to develop and operate a new facility on approximately 3.3 acres located at Albert Island Royal Docks London
According to the PLA, use of the Thames has been growing rapidly in recent years, with increasing passenger services, barge movements, and deep-sea trade. The planned shipyard forms part of Albert Island, London & Regional’s 25-acre, multimillion-pound industrial regeneration scheme in the Royal Docks. The whole area is undergoing significant transformation as London’s only Enterprise Zone and presents a unique opportunity for a skilled maritime operator to develop dedicated facilities and highly skilled jobs for local people, serving the UK’s busiest inland waterway.
“The Thames has been the centre of a river renaissance over the last decade, with continuing investment in new vessels and services of all kinds. This shipyard opportunity has major significance, as it will put the essential repair and maintenance facilities at the heart of the busy river,” said PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer. “Once developed, it will mean services can be provided swiftly, saving operators time taking vessels to yards off the river and minimizing downtime.”
The development of a London shipyard is also in line with wider government moves to reinvigorate shipbuilding in the UK. The Boris Johnson government has outlined several plans and efforts design to reinvigorate one of Great Britain’s historical industries. An updated National Shipbuilding Strategy is due to be released later this year, encompassing the broader merchant marine and other vessels, alongside the current strategy’s focus on vessels for the Royal Navy.
“Building this new shipyard is a fantastic opportunity to support hundreds of jobs in the UK and forge ahead with the Government’s ambition to reinvigorate shipbuilding right across the country,” said Shipping Minister, Robert Courts MP.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) announced support for the development of a new strategic-scale boatyard through the London Plan. They noted that the centre would be a transport engineering hub and will benefit from the significant investment already underway across the area, including transport infrastructure and local education and training provision.
The 3.3-acre shipyard development at Albert Island is one of three strategic sites in the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone. The shipyard is expected to feature a boat lift and other infrastructure.
Written proposals are due to the PLA by July 16, 2021. Under the current plan, they have a target date for operations by late 2023 or early 2024.