Revealed: The plan to save 1,000 shipbuilding jobs in Portsmouth

Paul Gonella, Vince Burdett and Sarah Stanton
Paul Gonella, Vince Burdett and Sarah Stanton
Picture: Paul Jacobs (142476-229) PPP-140824-032155001

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A CONSORTIUM of marine businesses are clubbing together in the hope of keeping shipbuilding alive in Portsmouth, The News can reveal.

Portsmouth-based marine and defence consultants Stanton Burdett came up with a plan to create the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group in the wake of BAE Systems’ announcement it would close its shipbuilding division in the city.

Now they have joined forces with a collaboration of marine businesses including Aurora Ventures, Ecospeed Marine Ltd, Offshore Expeditions, and Burgess 
Marine.

Their plan is to take over the shipyard from September, retaining 500 jobs and building a number of ships including an Offshore Patrol Vessel, a tidal vessel, a super yacht, and a number of high speed craft.

Within 10 years their target is to create a turnover of £1bn, and employ 1,000 people.

But the project needs around £100m from the government to get it off the ground.

Now Portsmouth City Council has written to prime minister David Cameron asking for a meeting with him to discuss the idea.

Sarah Stanton, one of the directors at Stanton Burdett, said: ‘David Cameron has been talking about keeping shipbuilding in the city and [minister for Portsmouth] Michael Fallon has been talking about it being a maritime centre of excellence and it is really important.

‘The important thing at the moment is that we are still looking for some commitment.

‘We have proved there is a market and there are orders.

‘We want to get an understanding of whether the benefits to the local Solent economy would be if we are able to continue shipbuilding in Portsmouth.’

Stanton Burdett is due to meet Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt today to discuss their plans and investigate potential funding.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘We have got options and we have got interest and we need to now make sure all of the vetting processes happen and we can get this to work.

‘There are a number of proposals for Portsmouth and I have been talking to a number of organisations for some considerable time.

‘What we have to do now is work out the best way to take this forward. I want to say the unions have been brilliant throughout all this and the workforce has been professional throughout the whole situation and it’s because of that we have such high interest.

‘We have got to look to the future now and I am optimistic about the future.’

The letter to David Cameron

In your letter about the loss of military shipbuilding here in Portsmouth, you kindly said: ‘But we also want to retain shipbuilding in the city, for which there is still significant, untapped potential.’

Over the last few months, it has become plain the only realistic way of maintaining significant levels of shipbuilding within Portsmouth is to work with a reputable company, who

will need a significant level of government financial support to make this happen.

All the serious proposals had an initial price tag of around £100m subsidy from government.

Since the November announcement, Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group has worked as a collaboration of marine shipbuilding businesses with expertise across multiple sectors including energy, commercial and export, to create a proposal to sustain shipbuilding in Portsmouth, and have proved both the markets and opportunities this facility presents.

Please will it be possible to have a meeting with yourself, along with Michael Fallon and the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group, so they can understand the level of financial support available, and for government to understand the level of economic benefit this would provide for the UK and the number of jobs it would create, to kickstart this proposal?

Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group needs to be able to commission work by the end of March 2014 to enable plans to progress [and to] understand the level of financial support available.