Appledore yard involved in building 96m Vava 11

Appledore Shipbuilders, one of the UK’s oldest shipbuilding companies, is set to be closed next April by its parent company, Babcock International. The shipyard, which was founded in 1855 in the southwest UK town of Appledore, has included among the 350 vessels that it has built, a number of superyachts and two sail training tall ships.

The last superyacht project was the 96m (315ft) Vava II, for which Appledore built the hull. In addition, other projects included the MY Samar and MY Sarafsa. The yard also built the sail training tall ships Stavros S Niarchos and Prince William.

Appledore Shipbuilders has had a mixed history in terms of ownership with a number of its owners going bust. Over the past few years the yard has been working on naval projects including building parts of the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and also vessels for Ireland.

Babcock International bought the yard in 2007 and it is closing it because its lease on the facility ends in March. This is despite being offered a potential £60m rescue package by the UK Ministry of Defence to keep the yard open. Some 200 people have been employed by the yard but because of the shortage of work around two thirds of these have been on short-term redeployment to the Plymouth Royal Navy dockyard which Babcock operates.

The Appledore yard is relatively modern as it was developed in 1970 at a cost of some £4m. It includes a large covered dock area which is around 150m long by 50m wide. It can cope with vessels up to some 10,000 GT. With the growing demand for superyacht refit capacity it might just appeal as a suitable facility for undertaking such work.