A TYNESIDE shipyard is on the brink of winning an order which would secure 200 jobs.

Cammell Laird, at Hebburn, has weathered a series of peaks and troughs in the past few months.

In October, the company lost a Ministry of Defence contract to build six ferries, which would have created 2,000 jobs.

But Cammell Laird has won a string of smaller orders, including a £10m contract to build two 180ft ferries for a Norwegian company.

Although modest, the order, which was announced six months ago, meant the return of shipbuilding to the Tyne.

Now the yard looks likely to win an order to build a slightly larger vessel.

General manager David Dobson declined to give details but he said: "I firmly expect that within six weeks we will be able to announce another new-build order for a European company, which will secure 200 jobs."

Along with other orders, already announced, for ship refits and conversions, the workforce at Cammell Laird is expected to rise from 600 to about 1,000 in the New Year.

The former Tyne Tees Dockyard employed just 300 when it was taken over by Cammell Laird two years ago.

Mr Dobson said: "We see this site employing 1,000 people for 12 months as opposed to the present peaks and troughs."

David Skentelbery, the company's new group managing director, said: "I think the next year is going to be tremendously exciting for Cammell Laird in the North-East.

"What we have to sell is our ability to deliver on time, and the quality of product.

"If you look at our competition, it is the Eastern European yards. It is very difficult to compete directly on price. We have to compete on a balance of time, quality and fair prices."

Mr Dobson said: "In the last year, every project has been delivered on time and to budget.