Portsmouth’s BAE Systems handed massive ship building contract

BOOST A ship builder works on a section of the first of two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers at BAE Systems in Portsmouth.
BOOST A ship builder works on a section of the first of two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers at BAE Systems in Portsmouth.
Picture: Paul Jacobs (142476-229) PPP-140824-032155001

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PORTSMOUTH’S shipbuilding industry is set for a boost as another multi-million pound aircraft carrier contract heads to the city.

Part of a £55m order for work on the second of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers is moving from A&P Tyne’s building yard in Hebburn, South Tyneside, to BAE Systems in Portsmouth.

A&P Tyne is currently sub-contracted by BAE Systems to build part of the aircraft carriers’ landing flight deck and put a second steel skin on the bottom of both ships’ hulls.

But John Fyall, spokesman for the BAE Systems-led Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA), said the work on the bottom of the ships’ hulls will now be done in Portsmouth.

He said: ‘Some of the work is moving down to Portsmouth, which represents 10 per cent of the value of their (A&P Tyne) contract.

‘The overall build strategy for the QE Class programme is regularly reviewed by the ACA. On occasions this results in recommended changes to the shipyard block allocation.

‘We changed our build strategy to balance workload across our sites and to ensure the ACA can continue to manage a smooth flow of work and continuity of skills across the QEC programme.’

Stewart Boak, managing director of A&P Tyne, would not confirm why the contract was switched but expressed disappointment over the decision and said the north-east firm delivered its work for the first carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth five weeks ahead of schedule.

He said: ‘We are obviously disappointed as we have completed 50 per cent of our contract.

‘I cannot say about job losses at this stage, but I can say it has been quite a surprise.’

Management at A&P Tyne were told verbally about the contract switch last week, before written confirmation from BAE Systems, reports suggest.

Mr Boak broke the news to the Hebburn workforce through a memo, which said: ‘The work will now be completed at BAE Systems’ Portsmouth facility.

‘I am sorry to have to bring you this news; it in no way reflects upon the performance of all involved in the contract to date.’

The additional workload for Portsmouth shipbuilders comes as they build a 7,000-tonne midship section, 5,000-tonne stern section and the flight deck control towers for HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Once that work is completed, Portsmouth is due to repeat the process for HMS Prince of Wales.

Both of the ships, which are costing around £6bn to build, will be based in Portsmouth. The first will arrive in 2016, with the second coming to the city in 2018.