South Shields firm praised by the Navy after icebreaker's record-breaking trials
Record-breaking trials by the Royal Navy’s only icebreaker, HMS Protector, have been credited to the superb work done by the UK Docks firm, which carried out a £14 million refit.
The ship has just returned from successful test runs in the Arctic in which it broke ice further north than any navy vessel since the 1970s.
And on its way to its next mission - a fourth-month deployment to Antarctica, 10,000 miles away - HMS Protector has made a brief return to the North East, holding a civic reception on board to celebrate the good work UK Docks has been carrying out on Royal Navy vessels over the past two years.
The company, originally founded in a single repair yard in South Shields in the mid-1990s, has now grown into an international business.
Two years ago, UK Docks signed a £150m, 10-year contract with the navy to service and repair the country’s survey fleet - HMS Protector and sister ships HMS Enterprise and HMS Echo.
Captain Michael Wood MBE, the commanding officer of HMS Protector, told guests: “I take my hat off to UK Docks for the work that they have done on the ship.
“We really put Protector’s ice-breaking capabilities to the test in the Arctic and were delighted to go further into the polar cap than any of our vessels has done in decades.”
Among the guests at the event at UK Docks’ Teeside facility was founder Harry Wilson and son Jonathan, as well as the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Johanna Ropner, Commodore Phillip Waterhouse, the Naval Regional Commander for the North, Jacob Young MP for Cleveland and Redcar, the Mayor of Teesside, Ben Houchen and the director of the Northern Powerhouse, Henri Murison.
Harry Wilson, who was the driving force in the company's growth for two decades before handing over the reins to his three sons, said: “We were honoured that the navy wanted to celebrate its links with UK Docks and the wider North East with this reception.
“It was the proudest moment of my career, for UK Docks to secure a major Royal Navy contract which brought work and business to the North East, safeguarding and increasing jobs in the region.