Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Three Nakhoda Ragam Class are Set to Move to Indonesia

BAE Systems Ships at Centre of Dispute Set to Leave Barrow Docks After Years in Limbo

THREE ships which have graced Barrow’s docks for more than five years after a dispute between BAE and the Sultan of Brunei are finally set to leave.

The three Nakhoda Ragam class vessels were built by BAE in Scotstoun, Glasgow, for the Royal Brunei Navy.

But after they were completed in 2002, Brunei refused to accept them, despite the ships being declared fit by the Royal Navy.

It is understood Brunei attempted to pull out of the deal because of operating costs and a lack of sufficiently trained personnel to operate the ships.

The legal battle was finally resolved by international arbitration in 2007 – in favour of BAE – and the ships were handed over to Brunei.

They were then moved to Barrow in 2007 to be stored at the docks while the German L├╝rssen shipyard, which had been contracted by Brunei, tried to find a buyer.

Now, after more than 10 years in limbo, a deal has been struck and the vessels are set to move to the warmer climate of Indonesia – in the weather the ships were designed to operate in.

Indonesia has reportedly paid just a fifth of the original £600m price tag for the three vessels. The ships are expected to enter service with the Indonesian navy within the next year.

The three corvettes are being maintained by Barrow shipping company James Fisher Marine Services.

As part of the deal to sell the ships, James Fisher sought to erect temporary living accommodation on nearby council land to house some of their own technical staff who have been providing safety cover on the corvettes.

The application was turned down by Barrow Borough Council but following an intervention by Barrow MP, John Woodcock, and undertakings by James Fisher to address the council’s concerns, Barrow Town Hall officers will now be supporting the planning application.

Mr Woodcock said: “There is real economic value in keeping the corvettes in Buccleuch Dock, with Barrow-based employees working on board them and income for local businesses from the visiting sailors.”

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