KBS Maritime’s New Cable Barge Initiates Construction as Harland & Wolff Cuts First Steel

International shipbuilding and naval defence contractor, Harland & Wolff, has today cut first steel on a new cable barge it is building for Portsmouth-based KBS Maritime Ltd. The ceremony took place at Harland & Wolff’s Appledore ship factory in North Devon and was attended by technical representatives from KBS Maritime and Harland & Wolff’s engineering team.

In a contract valued at approximately £800,000, Harland & Wolff has designed and will deliver in Spring 2024, a specialist cable barge that will enter service in His Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth. All construction work will be carried out at Appledore in parallel with existing defence and commercial projects currently underway at the site.

KBS Maritime Ltd is a joint venture between KBR and BAE Systems and delivers hard facilities management and alongside services to support to the Portsmouth flotilla. The base is home to almost two-thirds of the Royal Navy’s surface ships, including the flagship aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Of Wales, Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and mine countermeasures and fishery protection squadrons. On average, 700 ship movements a year take place, from a single ship movement to the deployment of the Carrier Strike Group.

The new cable barge now under construction will be used by KBS Maritime as a floating platform to lower anchors and associated cables chains from ships so that they can be tested and refurbished as required. The barge will be used to support alongside operations for Mine Hunters, Type 23’s, Type 45’s, and, when commissioned, the new Type 26’s and Type 31’s.

Harland & Wolff’s naval architects have worked closely with KBS Maritime’s engineering team during the design phase to incorporate features that will improve the safety, capability and efficiency of alongside operations. The barge currently in service has, over past 25 years, been heavily modified and the learnings from these modifications have been incorporated into the new design.

James Davis, Managing Director at KBS Maritime said, “The acquisition of the new cable barge is a key investment supporting our Asset Management strategy across Portsmouth Naval Base. By working with Harland & Wolff to design a forward-thinking and purpose-built barge, specific to the needs of this busy Naval Base, it will enable our Alongside Services teams to continue to deliver vital services to the Royal Navy in an efficient and safe way.”

Tom Hart, General Manager of Harland & Wolff in Appledore added, “We’re delighted to welcome the KBS project team to witness cutting steel. The existing cable barge has served well for over 25 years, and we are looking forward to building a modern, more capable alternative in her image that will help to serve the Royal Navy. Additionally, our work on this contract will enable us to continue growing both our workforce and our skills as the yard looks to ramp up for the delivery of the FSS contract.”