A SUBSEA firm, whose marine salvage division is helping with in the recovery of the stricken Costa Concordia cruise liner, says it is strengthening its North-East operations after completing major offshore energy contracts.

DeepOcean, based in Darlington, specialises in trenchers, ploughs and remote-operated vehicles to dig seabed routes for pipes and cables, and says it has experienced a real growth in demand.

The company employs about 120 workers across its Coniscliffe Road headquarters and Teesport base, and has also added to its Aberdeen team to move further into the oil and gas sector.

It has just finished work to fit 80 underwater cables on the Bard wind farm and buried cables on the Dolwin wind farm, both off the German coast.

The firm, formerly known as CTC Marine, is now carrying out a contract to carry out trenching work on the Stella oil and gas field in the North Sea, and earlier this year signed a deal to work with Statoil to install and bury 140km of fibre optic cable for Asta Hansteen development in the Norwegian sea.

Its marine salvage division, ADUS DeepOcean, based in St Andrews, Scotland, is also supporting attempts to refloat the Costa Concordia, which last year ran aground in Tuscany, killing 32 people.

Tony Inglis, DeepOcean managing director, said the company was in a good position after cutting financial losses and increasing its balance sheet to £79.9m.

He said: “Things are going pretty well, we are very busy and 2013 is becoming a very healthy year for us.

“We have just completed work on the wind farms, and alongside the Stella work and Statoil deals, we are in a good position.

“We have stabilised and are strengthening Darlington as well as our base in Aberdeen where there are a lot of oil and gas firm based.”

Australian-born Mr Inglis, who last year took over the role from Bart Heijermans, DeepOcean Group chief executive, also revealed the company was working on a long-term charter of the Havila Phoenix vessel.

The vessel will be equipped with a 250 tonne crane and feature two trenching machines.

He said: “The trenching systems will offer unparalleled performance in the oil and gas and renewable markets.

“A lot of work is being done in the North-East, which only serves to further strengthen our business.”