SHIP AHOY: Le Roisin, one of the newest Irish Patrol Vessels. Appledore has secured the contract to build two more similar vessels for the Irish Navy.
APPLEDORE SHIPYARD has secured an £85 million deal to build two ships for the Irish navy.
Babcock Marine, which owns the shipyard, has won the bid to build the two patrol vessels for the Irish Naval Service.
They will be designed and built entirely in Appledore.
Final details of the contract are still under negotiation, but it is said to be worth about 100 million Euros.
Shipbuilding director Andrew Hamilton said it was fantastic news for Appledore and North Devon.
He said: "I met the whole of the workforce on Monday to announce the new contract and everyone was delighted.
"The vessels will be designed and built at Appledore, which will mean an increase of white collar and blue collar workers."
He said the number of new jobs created by the contract was still to be confirmed, but it would also mean more apprentices for Appledore.
The contract will be signed in September and design work will begin.
The first steel should be cut in May, 2012.
The two new vessels will be 90 metres long, have a top speed of 23 knots, accommodate a crew of 44 with 10 apprentices.
The vessels will also have a 76mm gun, as well as two heavy machine guns and four general purpose machine guns.
The vessels will replace older ships in 2014 and 2015 to maintain defence, customs and fisheries duties on Ireland's 3,500 miles of coastline.
Six of the current fleet of eight vessels protecting Ireland's shoreline will be at least 30 years old by 2015.
The Irish Navy plans to replaced its entire force of offshore patrol vessels and boats between 2007 and 2025.
Since December, 2008, Appledore Shipyard has been making parts for the first of two aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy since December 2008.
The £50 million contract has secured 300 jobs in North Devon until 2015.
The yard has been building the bow sections for the two aircraft carriers — HM Queen Elizabeth and HM Prince of Wales.
Irish Defence Minister Tony Killeen said the Government had agreed to finance the vessels.