MORE than £100m will be invested into Portsmouth Naval Base following the announcement today that it’s shipbuilding division will be axed.
The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will announce in Parliament at around lunchtime today that the huge chunk of money will be used to expand the dockyard to ensure it’s ready for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s biggest ever warships as well as the Type 45 destroyers, which are based in Portsmouth.
The MoD also plans to commission three new Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy in a deal that will sustain jobs in the UK’s warship building industry, though they will be built at BAE Systems’ shipyards on the River Clyde in Scotland.
The government says the money will enable Portsmouth to maintain its proud maritime heritage as the home of much of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet ,and the centre of BAE Systems ship support and maintenance business.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: ‘This deal will provide the Royal Navy with three brand new maritime patrol vessels with a wide range of capabilities which will support our national interests and those of our Overseas Territories.
‘This is an investment not only in three ships but in this country’s warship building industry. It prevents workers standing idle and sustains the vital skills needed to build the planned Type 26 frigate in the future.
‘I am also pleased to announce additional investment in Portsmouth Naval Base to prepare for the significant increase in tonnage as the home port for the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers and destroyers.’
Work on the new Offshore Patrol Vessels is due to begin next year with the first ship being delivered to the Royal Navy in 2017. The ships are expected to replace the current, smaller River Class vessels, HM Ships Tyne, Severn and Mersey which have been policing the UK’s waters since 2003, but a final decision will be taken in the next Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord, said: ‘These new patrol vessels will build on the proven performance of the River Class by adding a flight deck to take the Navy’s Merlin helicopters and by adding operational flexibility through extra storage capacity and accommodation. They are very welcome.’