SCORES of Hampshire jobs have been secured after two marine sector firms joined forces to create the nation’s largest independent ship repairer.

Testbank Ship Repair, with locations at Southampton docks and Portchester, has been acquired by Burgess Marine.

The merger means 120 full-time staff and 200 sub contractors will be working under the Burgess Marine banner from six sites around Britain with a combined annual turnover of more than £20 million.

Testbank, which dates back to 1973, has 70 employees at its head office at Western Docks, Southampton, and the 1,000- tonne ship repair lift at Trafalgar Wharf, Portchester.

Its privately-owned shares were purchased outright for an undisclosed figure and the firm is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dover-based Burgess Marine.

Staff were told of the deal during a meeting at St Mary’s stadium.

Managing Director Nick Warren said: “Whilst this is an acquisition on paper both parties view this as very much a friendly merger rather than anything else.

It is one that will benefit our customers across the UK and internationally from econo-mies of scale as well as providing job security and prospects for our 120 highly skilled and dedicated employees and over 2 0 0 sub-contractors, including in and around Southampton and Portsmouth.

“It is important to stress that, with the vast majority of staff, there is little crossover with roles. Where there are any job duplications we will look at task redeployment elsewhere within the business.”

The newly enlarged company now has more than 70 clients, including ferry operators Brittany, Condor, P&O, Red Funnel and WightLink as well as cruise liner group Carnival. Services include welding, electrical support, engine overhauls, structural fabrication, dock evaluation reports, vessel surveys and warehousing.