Titanic shipyard buys UK’s former minehunter HMS Atherstone

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sold Royal Navy’s former Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel HMS Atherstone (M38) to Belfast-based shipyard Harland & Wolff famous for building the Titanic.

Launched in 1986 and commissioned in early 1987, the minehunter ceased service on December 31, 2017.

The ship had a close association with the town of Atherstone and was part of the 3rd Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Squadron based at Faslane in Scotland. Later, it became part of the 2nd MCM Squadron.

The UK’s Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA) announced the potential sale of the minehunter back in 2020.

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Harland & Wolff has acquired this vessel with a view to refurbishing it for non-military uses, discussions for which have already commenced with interested parties.

The company is involved in a competition run by the MOD regeneration program for the former HMS Quorn (M55). Now, the firm believes that the purchase of the former HMS Atherstone will significantly de-risk the M55 regeneration program given that the two vessels share a number of spare parts and components. 

“The benefits of this acquisition are two-fold; we now can significantly de-risk the M55 regeneration programme by utilising spares and component parts common to the two vessels, which has been recognised by MOD and will certainly help in closing out the negotiations over the next few weeks,” Harland & Wolff, group CEO John Wood, commented.

“I am pleased that we have generated a lot of interest for the repurposing of the former HMS Atherstone, and I expect to make announcements in this regard as soon as we have executed a refurbishment contract with a counterparty,” Wood added.

To remind, last year, the UK sold two retired Royal Fleet auxiliary ships, Fort Austin and Fort Rosalie. The deal was made in an effort to develop defence exports and investments to advance the UK agenda.

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