State papers: £ 9million Harland & Wolff crane insurance policy deemed unnecessary


Harland and Wolff’s famous Samson and Goliath cranes in Belfast Shipyard were insured for £ 9million in 1976, the equivalent of £ 60million today.

A memo from the company in February of that year revealed that the insurance policy, with an annual premium of £ 56,000, had been taken out as a condition of a loan from the Shipbuilding Industry Board.

But in the letter from Douglas Cooper, deputy managing director, to the Commerce Department, he said they intended to cancel it once the loan terms were canceled.

He wrote: “Now that the SIB loan agreement has been terminated, this commitment no longer applies, and we believe that maintaining such insurance coverage is an expensive safety net that we consider. as rather unnecessary and that we cannot afford. Besides the possible damage from riots and civil unrest, which would have to be recovered from government sources anyway, the other two possible sources of damage are engine room explosions and structural failures.

“Regarding the former, we are proposing to improve the fire precautionary arrangements in the engine rooms and we do not foresee any likelihood of structural failure.”

An earlier missive from September 1975, marked confidential in the same file and released by the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland last week, stated that there were “both the RUC and the military” who feared that Safety cages costing £ 16,000 to be placed. around the legs of the cranes to “secure the installation”.


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