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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Indonesia ships named in Barrow ceremony

A TASTE of Asia came to Cumbria as part of a naval ceremony.

Dignitaries from Indonesia descended on Barrow to take part in the official naming ceremony for two out of three offshore patrol vessels.

The third ship, which is still undergoing some work, is due to be named in the next few weeks ahead of the planned departure next month.

Yesterday’s ceremony marked the end of Barrow’s role in the saga surrounding the three vessels.

The three ships were built in the 1990s by BAE in Scotstoun, Glasgow, for the Royal Brunei Navy at a cost of £600m.

But after they were completed in 2002, Brunei refused to accept them.

An ensuing legal battle was resolved by international arbitration in 2007 – in favour of BAE – and the ships were handed over to Brunei.

They were moved to Barrow that year to be stored while the German Lürssen shipyard, which had been contracted by Brunei, tried to find a buyer.

After more than 10 years in limbo, a deal was struck to sell the vessels to the Indonesian navy for £231.4m.

Since then, Lürssen, with help from James Fisher, has looked after the maintenance of the ships and prepared the systems ready for the Indonesian navy to take over.

At yesterday’s ceremony, Rob Van der Wurff, from Lürssen, described how James Fisher had been a key sub-contractor during the seven years the vessels had been stored in Barrow.

He said: “Today is the culmination of many years of work, between ourselves, James Fisher who have been a highly valued sub-contractor and the Indonesians.”

Crews from the Indonesian navy have been staying in Barrow while getting to grips with their new ships.

Meanwhile, a number of Germans, who work for Lürssen, have been staying in the area for much of the seven years the ships have been berthed in Barrow.

John Alexander, project manager with James Fisher, said he hoped the relationship with Lürssen would lead to more work for the Barrow-based shipping firm.

He said: “It has been a long project for James Fisher.

“It’s been an interesting project for us and it demonstrates the versatility and the range of expertise that James Fisher can supply.”

The three ships will soon be sailing under new names – Kri Bung Tomo, Kri John Lie and Kri Ushman Harun.

Purnomo Yusgiantoro, the Indonesian defence minister, led yesterday’s ceremony, with his wife Lies carrying out the traditional bottle smashing against the hull of the ships – using a non-alcoholic drink to reflect the fact that Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia.

During his speech, he thanked the town and people of Barrow for their hospitality.

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