The Belfast shipyard that built the Titanic has been saved from closure by London-based energy firm InfraStrata in a deal worth £6 million.
The historic Harland and Wolff shipyard went into administration in August, putting 120 jobs at risk.
Infrastrata said it will retain 79 workers who did not opt for voluntary redundancy earlier this year and also plans to “significantly increase the size of the workforce by several hundred” over the next five years.
The number of employees at the company’s main project, Islandmagee Gas Storage, in County Antrim will also scale to 400 during construction.
John Wood, CEO of InfraStrata, said: “Harland and Wolff is a landmark asset and its reputation as one of the finest multi-purpose fabrication facilities in Europe is testament to its highly skilled team in Belfast.
“Our Islandmagee Gas Storage Project will benefit greatly from their expertise in the energy sector, both technically and economically and we look forward to growing the workforce significantly in the coming years. While our core priority will be to deliver our flagship project in Islandmagee, we believe there are opportunities to welcome potential new clients due to the diverse skill set at the facility.
“This acquisition will clearly provide substantial advantages through vertical integration in addition to demonstrating our commitment to the Northern Irish economy, particularly in the post-Brexit era.”
Infrastrata is also planning a floating gas storage and re-gasification project.
Steve Turner, Head of Manufacturing at Unite union welcomed the news: “It has been a huge test of determination but today hundreds of workers at this yard and thousands more throughout the supply chain can breathe more easily. Now, we have work to do. We have a shipyard to get back up and running to its full potential.
“My message to those in government and in power is this, trust working people, the communities you are asked to represent and their unions. We will never give up, we will always fight for our future and you should do so too. I urge you to learn from the courage, vision and inspiration of this community. Support us, do not ignore us whenever we seek solidarity and meaningful support because we want only peace, security and a just future for our communities.”