Shipbuilder Swan Hunter has started preliminary talks with three overseas governments that could secure the long-term future of 1,200 jobs on Tyneside.
The governments – two European and one Asian - have been attracted by Swan Hunter’s new design for amphibious landing ships.
This has recently secured the firm a £140 million contract with the Ministry of Defence for the design of its new generation of landing ships and the construction of two of the new ships.
Norman Brownell, the company’s commercial director, confirmed that initial discussions were underway with the foreign governments.
He said that work on the new MoD ships would boost the firm’s workforce from 800 to about 2,000 and that if the discussions with the overseas governments lead to further orders the long-term future of the extra jobs would be safeguarded.
He added: "It is not just the jobs which are created directly but also the spin-offs with our cluster of partners within the regional infrastructure."
By Ben Willmott