UK and French specialist shipyards have announced a merger to produce a strong multinational player in aluminium shipbuilding.

Wight Shipyard Group has become a major player in aluminium shipbuilding

Wight Shipyard Group has become a major player in aluminium shipbuilding

Britain’s Wight Shipyard Co. has announced an all-share merger with the complementary multinational shipbuilder OCEA to create a combined group to capitalise on fast ferry and offshore renewable energy market opportunities.

The deal is scheduled to complete March 2022 and will see The Wight Shipyard Co. nearly double in size, providing significant employment opportunities at the East Cowes, UK yard.

Speaking about the merger, Peter Morton, CEO of The Wight Shipyard Co. commented: “This is a transformational deal for The Wight Shipyard Co. and for the Isle of Wight, confirming the resurgence of the shipbuilding industry in the United Kingdom. We have been working with OCEA on a number of projects and it was very clear from the outset that we complemented each other in terms of skills and experience and, going forward through the business cycle, both companies can benefit from the synergies and opportunities that this deal presents. We have enjoyed a first-class working relationship with OCEA to produce vessels and solutions to the highest standards, pushing the boundaries in terms of fuel efficiency, the environment and modern shipbuilding practices.”

The Wight Shipyard Co. has rapidly built a considerable reputation in the fast-ferry market, selling its innovative, high-tech, environmentally friendly vessels both domestically and internationally and was recently awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Export in 2021. OCEA similarly, was awarded the Baird Maritime award in 2020 for best large patrol boat (Offshore Patrol Vessel OPV270) and is an innovator in the aluminium vessel market with high quality builds for the maritime security, passenger vessel, multipurpose workboat, transoceanic yacht and hydrographic research markets. The strength of OCEA’s international export market has driven its multinational expansion. Both companies also have complementary expertise supporting the offshore renewable energy sector. Combining the two together will produce a truly global aluminium shipbuilding operation with an order book that offers the business security and sustainability well into the future.

Roland Joassard, CEO and founder of OCEA is excited by the deal saying: “OCEA is expanding internationally to respond to strong demand in these markets and appreciates the new ‘Global Britain’ and refreshed National Shipbuilding Strategy outlook. Wight Shipyard Co. shares the same DNA, passion and high quality of workmanship as OCEA and its expertise in the fast ferry market complements OCEA’s qualities in other markets. Having worked with the Wight Shipyard Co. and Peter’s team in a number of ways already, we feel that they are the perfect partner to develop global orders for the fast ferry and offshore renewable energy markets.”

OCEA's main shipyard is located at Les Sables d’Olonne

OCEA’s primary shipyard is located at Les Sables d’Olonne

Based at their primary yard in Les Sables d’Olonne, OCEA employs more than 500 skilled operators with further facilities in France, the Caribbean and the Philippines. Following the merger with the Wight Shipyard Co., the Group will share resources and operations in East Cowes that will ramp up significantly, helping the Isle of Wight to ‘level up’ with the creation of much-needed employment opportunities.

Speaking about those opportunities, Peter Morton further commented: “For East Cowes and the Isle of Wight, this is a step change in terms of future employment and security for the outstanding team at The Wight Shipyard Co. We will be able to bring in more high-skilled shipbuilders and technicians as well as providing career pathways all through the production chain.”