Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard has been sold for £6 million, saving it from closure and rescuing 79 jobs.

The yard, best known for building the Titanic, has been bought by Infrastrata, a London-based energy firm.

Harland and Wolff was put into administration in August following the collapse of its Norwegian parent company.

InfraStrata says it will retain the 79 workers who are still employed at the yard.

CEO of Infrastrata John Wood said: "Harland and Wolff is a landmark asset and its reputation as one of the finest multi-purpose fabrication facilities in Europe is testament to its highly skilled team in Belfast."

Workers are now set to be involved in works on a proposed underground gas storage facility at Islandmagee in Co Antrim.

Infrastrata said it planned to increase the size of the workforce by several hundred over the next five years.

Mr Wood added: "This acquisition is a function of deep operational synergies between the various business segments of the company with Harland and Wolff underpinning the construction economics of the Islandmagee Gas Storage Project and other future projects.

"We are delighted to be able to retain 100% of personnel who did not opt to take voluntary redundancy earlier this year.

"Our Islandmagee Gas Storage Project will benefit greatly from their expertise in the energy sector, both technically and economically, and we look forward to growing the workforce significantly in the coming years.

"While our core priority will be to deliver our flagship project in Islandmagee, we believe there are opportunities to welcome potential new clients due to the diverse skill set at the facility.

"This acquisition will clearly provide substantial advantages through vertical integration in addition to demonstrating our commitment to the Northern Irish economy, particularly in the post-Brexit era." 

Workers had engaged in a nine-week occupation of the site

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith welcomed the deal. "I am delighted by the news that InfraStrata have purchased the Harland and Wolff shipyard and retained the skills and experience of the existing workforce," he said.

"I firmly believe that the shipyard has a promising future and that InfraStrata's plans present an exciting opportunity for both Belfast and Northern Ireland's manufacturing and energy sectors."

Workers have occupied the site for nine weeks.

Trade unions Unite and GMB hailed the workforce's role in securing the yard's future.

Susan Fitzgerald, regional co-ordinating officer with Unite, said: "From July 29th, when workers were faced with the imminent collapse of the yard, they were determined not only to save their own jobs but to safeguard Northern Ireland's skillbase going forward. Their nine-week occupation will be remembered by future generations of workers as evidence of the power of collective action."

Denise Walker, senior organiser with GMB, added: "While politicians substituted sympathy for action, workers took control of the situation and of their workplace. In so doing they have ensured that Harland and Wolff will not only continue but will be in a position to expand and fulfil its potential as a lynchpin of Northern Ireland's economy".