Hovercraft research site bid for shiphall

The  BAE shipbuilding hall at Portsmouth Naval Base
The BAE shipbuilding hall at Portsmouth Naval Base
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A CAMPAIGN has been sparked to transform part of Portsmouth’s shiphall into a state-of-the-art hovercraft research and development facility.

Hampshire-based Rail Hovercraft Group has revealed it is keen to take on part of the dockyard facility, which had been meant for Magma Structures.

It aims to create a new hovercraft innovation cluster within the city’s naval base in a bid to make the UK a leading power in the next generation of hovercraft.

Bert Curtis, secretary of the group, is spearheading the drive and said the centre would protect key engineering jobs within the city.

Mr Curtis said: ‘A centre like this could bring in and secure employment for existing engineers who would be part of a major research and development project which, if successful, could put Britain at the forefront of hovercraft technology.’

He added: ‘This would be a way of reinvigorating an industry which was left to die in 1985.

‘We could once again be world leaders in hovercraft design.’

But it looks unlikely the bid will get off the ground.

Shiphall ‘A’ building has already been earmarked by the Royal Navy as part of its maintenance support scheme for frigates and destroyers.

It comes after it was revealed the MoD would no longer be remarketing shiphall following the collapse of the Magma Structures deal on Monday.

BAE has already transformed hall B into a Centre of Specialisation for Small Ships, which will focus on the repairs of the navy’s minehunter fleet.

BAE has also just completed investment in its Skill Development Centre adjacent to the shiphall to double the throughput of apprentices to support ship repairs.