Southampton based ship outfitter Moss Marine has landed its largest ever contract, worth £4.5m, to fit out two patrol vessels for the Irish Navy.

The deal with Babcock International Group is thought to be the largest British shipyard contract awarded to a UK based firm this year.

The work on two 55-berth, 90m long offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), above, covering furniture to upholstery, will last up to three years. There is the possibility of an option for work on a third.

Moss Marine Construction was the smallest of nine firms, including two based in Europe, bidding for the contract. It follows three years of negotiation.

Managing director Mike Moss, pictured, put the contract win down to the firm’s expertise and competitive fixed price tenders.

Moss has recently finished the outfitting work on three OPVs for Trinidad & Tobago, which have since been sold to the Brazilian Navy in a £133m deal, and is completing work on three patrol vessels for the Oman Navy at BAE Systems in Portsmouth as part of ongoing £14m contracts.

Mr Moss said: “We’ve got the track record and expertise in this type of vessel. Our competitors can do the job but we understand the client’s requirements a lot better.”

Moss Marine, which has been based in a workshop and offices in Marsh Lane, Southampton, for the past five years is one of the few south coast survivors of the decline in shipping manufacturing.

The latest contract will guarantee more work for its 60 staff, around half based in Hull, and keep the firm’s joinery workshops fully occupied for 18 months.

Work will start on the first of the two vessels next month for completion in January 2014. The second will be completed in January 2015.

The OPVs are being built at Babcock’s shipyard in Bideford, north Devon.