Shipbuilding jobs could be saved in plan for superyacht

Nick Warren, Managing Director of Burgess Marine
Nick Warren, Managing Director of Burgess Marine

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UP TO 200 vitally-needed shipbuilding jobs could be created if a plan to build a classic superyacht in Portchester gets under way.

Burgess Marine, Britain’s largest independent ship repairer, and naval architect Laurent Giles have joined forces to launch Project Nelson at Trafalgar Wharf.

They want to create a new luxury vessel as a modern take on a classic gentleman’s motor yacht, but they still need to find an enthusiastic investor or owner for the scheme.

It is hoped the new jobs could help mitigate the 940 jobs that will go in Portsmouth Naval Base by September as BAE Systems moves its shipbuilding operations to Scotland.

Burgess Marine managing director Nicholas Warren said: ‘There is a huge opportunity to capitalise on the expertise and passion for shipbuilding in and around this great maritime city, as an industry we should be able to make this work.’

He also praised the work of the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group in attempting to find a way to keep specialist marine engineers in the local area.

If the project creates the maximum 200 jobs, it would double the Burgess Marine head count.

John Ferrett, negotiations officer for the Prospect union, said he welcomed the project but more should still be done to keep shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

He said: ‘Clearly we welcome anything that will mitigate the redundancies at the naval base, but we still maintain the view that the government should be attempting to keep shipbuilding here – especially as the Prime Minister is making a speech to attempt to keep Scotland part of the union.

‘It’s becoming clear that Scotland may well vote for independence, and if that happens, we’ll need to have shipbuilding here in Portsmouth.’

Gary Cook, spokesman for the GMB union, which represents dockyard workers, said he viewed the announcement with ‘cautious optimism’.

He added: ‘We welcome any interest that will help the situation at BAE.’

A spokesman for the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group, set up in the wake of the BAE Systems announcement in November, said: ‘Project Nelson is an innovative project which demonstrates the demand for quality shipbuilding within the area, and is an opportunity to utilise a skilled workforce, and is another very positive step forward in establishing the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group.’