BAE torpedo deal shows our commitment to Portsmouth, says defence secretary

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Yesterday marked an important day for Portsmouth, the Royal Navy and our defence industry when I announced a new £270m contract to upgrade the Spearfish heavyweight torpedo on our submarines.

This is part of our commitment to giving our Armed Forces the best equipment to help keep Britain safe.

15/12/14  CF''Staff celebrate at BAE Maritime in Portsmouth during a visit from defence secretary, Michael Fallon MP who announced the award of a new contract for the firm to upgrade the Royal Navy's Spearfish torpedoes.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143560-1) PPP-141215-163523003

15/12/14 CF''Staff celebrate at BAE Maritime in Portsmouth during a visit from defence secretary, Michael Fallon MP who announced the award of a new contract for the firm to upgrade the Royal Navy's Spearfish torpedoes.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143560-1) PPP-141215-163523003

Spearfish is already a cutting edge torpedo, allowing our submarines to protect Britain’s interests both underwater and on the surface.

These upgrades will make the Spearfish more effective, fully digitising its systems and boosting performance through new fibre optics.

Investment in cutting-edge kit like this is only possible because we have put the defence budget back on an even keel, establishing a 10-year £164bn equipment plan to invest in everything from carrier strike capability to air-transport fleets.

This announcement isn’t just about the capability of the Royal Navy or our Armed Forces.

It is about the capability of a city. As the first minister for Portsmouth I know how proud this city is of its naval history, home to the Royal Navy’s oldest base and one of the world’s oldest dry docks. Seventy years ago, this city was the departure point for those units that landed on Sword Beach in Normandy and turned the tide against Nazi tyranny.

Today, Portsmouth remains critical to the Royal Navy. Almost two-thirds of our surface ships, including the Type 45 destroyers and 7 Type 23 frigates are based here.

The new Spearfish contract reinforces our commitment to Portsmouth creating and sustaining 100 jobs in the city and hundreds more in the supply chain across the country.

It will also sustain BAE’s torpedo manufacturing capability in Broad Oak for another decade.

On its own, this is good news for the city.

But it follows a raft of investments we have made in Portsmouth: £600m in the naval base; £100m to make the port ready for the Queen Elizabeth carriers; £70m to support and maintain Type 45 Destroyers; and £4m to exploit the huge potential of unmanned vessels.

And, of course, bringing Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup bid to the Camber.

No-one should be in any doubt about this government’s commitment to ensuring Portsmouth remains a thriving hub of marine excellence.

The one issue I am determined to resolve is the former BAE shipbuilding hall.

I know there is impatience about its future use – I share it.

We have been working hard to find a long term solution.

Thirty-Four companies expressed an interest and we have now shortlisted three final bidders.

We are considering those bids and I intend to make an announcement in January.

We have seen the threats facing us from an unstable world this year grow, and 2015 will bring new dangers with it.

Yet by investing in capability, our Royal Navy, our Armed Forces and in the home of the Royal Navy, we can look forward to the future with pride and confidence.