County Durham foundry secures Royal Navy anchor contract

8:00am Wednesday 31st August 2011

By Owen McAteer

AN HISTORIC County Durham foundry business has won a major contract to manufacture and maintain the Royal Navy's anchors for its ships and submarines.

The £4m contract family owned Bonds has secured with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will also see the firm, employing 171, repairing damaged anchors for the fleet.

The firm, which runs Bonds Foundry, at Tow Law in County Durham, and Bonds Precision Castings, in Alston, Cumbria, has won a four-year deal after impressing with its previous work on MoD contracts.

It has built a reputation for both its technical ability and the excellence of its staff, having previously provided anchors and components for the Royal Navy's vessels.

Bonds Foundry director Mike Best said that winning the contract was good news for British manufacturing.

"It is good for the North-East and is building on the success we have here," he said.

"Supplying and restoring anchors for the Royal Navy is a great privilege for Bonds Foundry having also supplied parts for the new Type 45 destroyers and the aircraft carriers, which are now under construction.

"We pride ourselves on our technical capabilities and competitiveness and are pleased to be supplying British-made anchors."

A spokesperson from the MoD said: "We are pleased to confirm the award of the contract for the supply, repair and support of anchors fitted to Royal Navy surface ships and submarines to Bond's Foundry.

"The contract won in competition, extends the long and very successful association the company has developed with the Maritime Equipment Systems Project Team and its forerunner, the Warship Support Agency, in supporting the Royal Navy in this vitally important area of specialist support."

The steel anchors range in weight from 4.5 kilograms up to 5.5 tonnes and include both non-magnetic and magnetic anchors, which require sophisticated metallurgical processes.

The award of the contract comes at the end of a very successful month at the firm.

Earlier in August it was presented with its Queen's Award for International Trade, after increasing overseas earnings from £1m to £5.7m in the past three years.

It also announced it was preparing to expand after buying the former Kenmore plant in Crook, County Durham from owner Parker Hannifin.

The ten-acre site has been empty since the fridge maker ended its operations there in January 2009.

Bonds itself has transformed its fortunes since County Durham-born businessman Paul Duncan bought the 153year-old Tow Law foundry from administration in 2000.

The foundry, employing 102, is one of a few steel founders in the UK with capacity for steel castings up to 12 tonnes and has a turnover of more than £9m

Bonds Precision, employing 69 and with a turnover approaching £4m, produces high-specification, small steel castings by the Shaw Process, a specialist ceramic process which it was instrumental in inventing.

Last year the firm was placed 12th in a Sunday Times list of the UK's 100 fastest growing export companies and it trades with 18 countries.

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