We must act quickly to bring back shipbuilding

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It’s three years since this city lost shipbuilding, ending a long and proud tradition that stretched back centuries.

To many it was unthinkable, but it happened.

Since then there has been plenty of talk about getting it back, but precious little in the way of real progress.

Remember former prime minister David Cameron pledging to bring the industry back to Portsmouth?

It was in 2015 when he announced that Magma Structures would be taking over the ship hall vacated by BAE.

But this deal collapsed in March and we were back to square one.

So it is encouraging to report today how the city may well have a golden chance to turn back the clock and assume its former position as one of the UK’s shipbuilding powerhouses.

A review by Sir John Parker into the nation’s shipbuilding industry condemns a ‘vicious cycle’ of old warships being kept beyond their sell-by date and calls for a ‘sea change’.

His National Shipbuilding Strategy wants to see the government driving a cultural change in defence to inject pace into the procurement process and for the Ministry of Defence to lay out plans for naval ships for the next 30 years.

That would allow shipyards to win work and create jobs, with new ships built in large chunks across the UK and then assembled at a central hub.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Portsmouth would be ideal as that hub.

All very promising. But we agree with Gary Cook, former GMB union regional organiser for Portsmouth, when he says that we have to act quickly.

We have a tremendous opportunity.

So let’s go all out to convince companies to move into the dockyard and start building ships here again.

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