|Founded||1954 (as Austin & Pickersgil l)|
|Headquarters||Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, England|
|Number of locations||3|
|Key people||Chris Bell from 1st January 2010|
|Services||Ship repair and ship conversion|
|Revenue||£124.3 million GBP (2013)|
|Employees||up to 1000|
A&P Group Ltd is the largest ship repair and conversion company in the UK, with three shipyards located in Hebburn, Middlesbrough and Falmouth. The Company undertakes a wide variety of maintenance and repair work on commercial and military ships with projects ranging from a two day alongside repair period through to multimillion UK pound conversion projects lasting for a year or more.
As one of only two remaining significant commercial ship repair companies in the United Kingdom, along with Cammell Laird, A&P Group has become a centre of excellence for ship owners and managers operating in North West Europe and continues to grow a profitable and successful business employing over 1,000 skilled staff (678 employees in 2013 plus agency workers) in the North East and South West of England.
The A&P Group was formed in Sunderland as Austin & Pickersgill in 1954 by the merger of S.P. Austin & Son Ltd (founded by Samuel Peter Austin in c.1826) and William Pickersgill & Sons Ltd (founded c. 1838). After the merger Austin's Wear Dock yard was used for repair while shipbuilding was concentrated at Pickersgill's Southwick Yard. The latter was modernised with the introduction of large assembly shops and prefabrication processes. This reduced costs and increased the maximum size of a vessel that the yard could build from 10,000 to 40,000 tons deadweight.
In 1957 a consortium of three companies led by London & Overseas Freighters Ltd. (LOF) took over Austin & Pickersgill. In October 1968 Austin & Pickersgill took over Bartram & Sons Ltd, whose South Dock yard was also in Sunderland. In 1970 London and Overseas Freighters bought out the other members of the consortium to take 100% ownership of Austin & Pickersgill.
In 1977 Austin & Pickersgill was nationalised as a member company of British Shipbuilders. In 1986 the Company was merged with Sunderland Shipbuilders Ltd to form North East Shipbuilders Ltd. However both the Southwick and the Doxford Pallion Shipbuilding Yards closed in 1988 following negotiations with the European Commission to reduce shipbuilding capacity in the UK.
In 1989 the Company was privatised and adopted the name A&P Appledore International to reflect the acquisition of Appledore Shipbuilders. The Company then focused on shiprepairs rather than shipbuilding, becoming A&P Group in 1995 and being acquired by Royal Bank of Scotland in 1997.
In 2005 A&P sold the Birkenhead yard to Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders and closed its facilities in Southampton (King George V Dock) and the four dock complex in Wallsend, near Newcastle upon Tyne, in order to focus all ship repair activity in its newer facilities in Hebburn (A&P Tyne), A&P Tees at Middlesbrough was also retained to support the important Southern North Sea offshore oil and gas operations and dredging contractors; the strategically situated Falmouth operation (A&P Falmouth) was also retained.
In 2009 A&P was fully acquired by Cardiff property developer Bailey Group. The company had previously acquired a 50% stake in 2006. In 2011 it was acquired by the shareholders of Cammell Laird.
A&P maximised the competitiveness of its prefabrication process by producing ships to standard designs rather than individual specifications. From 1962 onwards the company offered standard bulk carriers in a range of sizes designated according to tonnage.
A&P's most numerous product was another of its standard designs, the SD14 shelter deck cargo ship. During the Second World War, shipyards in the USA had delivered more than 2,700 Liberty ship shelter deck cargo ships. By the 1960s many Liberty ships were reaching the end of their service lives, so in 1965 A&P started to develop a low-cost shelter-deck cargo vessel to replace them.
A&P invited other UK shipbuilders to tender for licences to produce SD14's, but by 1966 only Bartram's could meet A&P's requirement to build each ship to a selling price of £915,000. Both Bartram's and A&P built their first SD14's in 1967 and handed them to their new owners in February 1968. A&P's takeover of Bartram's followed in October.
In 1973 Robb Caledon Shipbuilding of Dundee in Scotland contracted to build three SD14's. Astilleros y Fábricas Navales del Estado also obtained permission to build six SD14's in its yard at Ensenada in Argentina.
By the time production ceased, 211 SD14's had been built either at A&P's Southwick and South Dock yards and or by licencees in Greece, Brazil, Scotland and Argentina. The largest volume of sales was to Greek shipowners. The SD14 and B-series standard ship designs, and the prefabrication methods by which they were built enabled A&P to maintain a full order book until nationalisation in 1977, in contrast to many other UK shipbuilders in that era.
A&P Tyne is located at Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, UK and is positioned along the River Tyne. The facility consists of two dry docks (only one is currently in use), two quays and a large steel fabrication shed. The facility also has eight cranes lifting up to 100 tonnes, a steel workshop, joinery workshop and engineering workshop.
The dry dock at A&P Tyne is the largest on the east coast of the UK. It is 259 metres (850 ft) long, 45.7 metres (150 ft) wide and has a depth of 5.6 metres (18 ft) below the datum of navigational charts allowing it to accommodate a wide variety of ships. The two quays are Bede Quay and West Quay.
A&P Tees is located in Middlesbrough, UK and is located on the mouth of the River Tees. The yard has two dry docks and six cranes ranging up to forty tonnes lifting capacity. Dry dock number one is 175.4 metres (575 ft) long, 23.4 metres (77 ft) and has a depth of 1.7 metres (5 ft 7 in) below chart datum. Dry dock number two is 120 metres (390 ft) long, 18.6 metres (61 ft) wide and a has a depth below chart datum of 0.37 metres (1 ft 3 in). Like A&P Tyne, A&P Tees has a wide variety of workshops and fabrication sheds around the site.
A&P Falmouth is located in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK on the mouth of the River Fal. The yard is located in the third largest natural deep water harbour in the world, and is the largest ship repair complex in the UK. A&P Falmouth has three large graving docks and can accommodate ships up to 100,000 DWT.
Number two dock (Queen Elizabeth Dock) is the largest graving dock and is 252.8 metres (829 ft) long, 39.6 metres (130 ft) wide and a has depth below chart datum of 5.6 metres (18 ft). Dock number three is 220.98 metres (725 ft) long, 28.04 metres (92 ft) wide and a depth below chart datum of 3.2 metres (10 ft). Dock number four is 172.5 metres (566 ft) long, 26.21 metres (86 ft) wide and has a depth below chart datum of 2.9 metres (9 ft 6 in). There are four wharfs in the yard: County Wharf, Duchy Wharf, Queens Wharf and "South of Queens Wharf".
The yard has six cranes, with a total load capacity of 60 tonnes. It has also a steel fabrication shed, engineering workshop, electrical workshop and joinery workshop.
Health and safety breaches
In November 2009 A&P Falmouth pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 following the death of an employee in August 2006 from crush injuries at Falmouth Docks and was fined £85,000.
Toxic waste charge
A&P Falmouth was charged under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) following the alleged illegal dumping of toxic sediment during the development of Falmouth Marina. The MMO alleges that A&P allowed silt contaminated with the biocide TBT - one of the most dangerous substances ever deliberately introduced into the marine environment - to be dumped without a licence between March and December 2007, and:
[failed] to declare a number of vital issues when applying for a licence in November that year, including providing an environmental impact assessment with elements it knew to be false.
In December 2010 A&P Ports and Properties Ltd ordered to pay more than £600,000 after:
lying about dredging toxic sediment and dumping it in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
- Company Check
- Shipbuilding on the Wear
- London & Overseas Freighters
- What was the last nationalisation? BBC News, 18 February 2008
- Tyne & Wear Archives
- Last shipyard BBC News, 28 November 2008
- Parliamentary Written Answers 18 April 1989
- A&P Group: Home page
- The Manufacturer
- A&P Holdings acquires Cammell Laird Holdings
- Ocean Liner Museum
- Old timers can't contain their enthusiasm as SD14 workhorse remains a model of success Cape Times, 3 August 2005
- "Ship repair company fined £85,000 after crane platform crush fatality". Health and Safety Executive. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 2011-03-06.
- Barton, Lyn (13 February 2010). "Two firms face 'toxic waste dump' charges". Western Morning News (Plymouth). p. 5.
- "The TBT ban". Seas At Risk. Retrieved 2011-03-06.
- Port company lied about toxic waste dumping This is Cornwall
- Lingwood, John (1976). SD14 The Great British Shipbuilding Success Story. Kendal: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-9500044-8-0.
- Lingwood, John (2004). SD14: The Full Story. Focus. ISBN 978-1-901703-64-1.
- Ritchie, LA (1992). The Shipbuilding Industry, a guide to historical records. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
- For details of the company archives see Tyne & Wear Archives Service