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The shipbuilding industry is to return to Stornoway after an absence of 100 years, thanks to a new partnership announced by Stornoway Port Authority today (Thursday 30 November).

The port authority has teamed up with boatbuilders Coastal Workboats, who have signed a 10-year lease on the new marine engineering workshop at Goat Island, bringing 25 new marine manufacturing jobs to the island.

The deal will see the Devon company relocating their fabrication business to Stornoway, where they will use the state-of-the-art workshop to construct a range of workboats for customers including Dutch shipbuilder, Damen.

Coastal Workboats say the first project, starting immediately, will be an electric workboat funded by a £6.2M grant from the UK government. 

The all-electric Damen E-LUV is a UK first, intended for use in the ferry industry and aquaculture sector and set for trials from 2025 on Shetland’s Papa Stour to West Burrafirth route. 

The new Stornoway marine fabrication workshop will become Coastal Workboats’ primary fabrication centre and will lead to partnership working with local training providers to ensure future opportunities in the industry.

The workshop was constructed at Goat Island in 2021 on land reclaimed from the sea as part of the Newton Marina development masterminded by the Port Authority.

The project was made a reality with funding contributions from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES), the Scottish Government's Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF) and Stornoway Port Authority.

Alex Macleod, chief executive at Stornoway Port Authority, said: “This partnership reaffirms our commitment to fostering innovation and growth within the marine industry.

“The facility at Goat Island is world-class, with overhead cranes specifically designed for vessel construction, and we are thrilled to support Coastal Workboats as they undertake these ambitious projects.

“This agreement also marks the return of a dedicated shipbuilder in Stornoway for the first time in 100 years, and we are proud to have played our part in bringing this industry back to the island.”

Coastal Workboats director Brian Pogson said: “As a family-run company, we’ve taken pride in building Coastal Workboats on a foundation of community; actively engaging with a local workforce and supplier network throughout each chapter of our work.

“We’re therefore thrilled to continue this family and friends ethos with our move to Stornoway – investing in, learning from and growing with a fantastic community with a national reputation.”

National Shipbuilding Office (NSO) chief executive Rear Admiral Rex Cox said: “The National Shipbuilding Office is very pleased to see the opening of Coastal Workboats’ brand new manufacturing facility in Stornoway Port.

“Shipbuilding brings significant benefits to a local area; this new facility will bring 25 new highly skilled and well-paid jobs and will have a positive impact on the local economy and community.”

Damen Shipyards UK sales manager Mike Besijn said: “This first-class boat building facility is close to many of our joint customers in the inter-island ferries and the aquaculture industries.

“It is our goal to support Coastal Workboats’ long-term commitment to the facility and their drive to create sustainable local work by assisting in the continuity of future orders and supporting the build of a wider range of Damen designs.

“For today, this initial order of the Damen E-LUV is the perfect first step to demonstrate the capabilities of both companies.”

The pictures show the Stornoway workshop on Goat Island and are from Stornoway Port Authority.