Offshore boost for Great Yarmouth boat firm

A Norfolk firm dedicated to building boats for the offshore renewable energy industry has announced a deal to supply a fleet of state-of-the-art vessels to energy-giant E.ON.

Alicat Workboats will construct four bespoke aluminium catamarans for the UK energy supplier in the latter part of this year – with the first serving E.ON's Robin Rigg Wind Farm off the Solway Firth, near Cumbria.

The contract comes on a tailwind of success for the Great Yarmouth company, which secured 100 jobs back in October when it bought Isle of Wight firm South Boats out of administration for an undisclosed fee.

Steve Thacker, general manager of Alicat Workboats, said: 'We are absolutely delighted to be working with E.ON on this project.

'At Alicat we are as committed to the aftercare of the vessels as we are to building them in the first place and we look forward to forming a close working relationship during the construction of these vessels and beyond.'

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Alicat Workboats' 75 staff produce about eight vessels a year from its operating base on Southtown Road.

Each boat costs in the region of �1.7m and will help in the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms.

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The E.ON contract will see 19m high-speed wind farm service vessels, which are capable of reaching speeds of 30 knots, built in Alicat's yard.

Meanwhile, Alicat is hopeful of benefiting from buying out South Boats this year by taking advantage of its strong reputation and multi-million pound order book.

When the south coast firm was purchased back in October, it had around �21m of orders on its books, with an inquiry pipeline of around �35m.

Jon Beresford, offshore wind operations manager at E.ON, said: 'Not only are Alicat very local to our Scroby Sands operational base, they also offer a quality product with through-life service which as vessel owners is extremely important to us.

'Their capability for a comprehensive after-sales support makes them so much more than boat builders and we are very much looking forward to working together.'

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