Shipbuilding boom provides job hopes ...across the pond

HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, has the F and G ring sections joined together at BAE Systems' shipbuilding bay within Portsmouth Naval Base.
HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, has the F and G ring sections joined together at BAE Systems' shipbuilding bay within Portsmouth Naval Base.

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A CANADIAN shipbuilding firm has come to Portsmouth to speak with workers facing redundancy at the city’s shipyard.

Dozens of BAE Systems workers went to the Marriott Hotel in North Harbour yesterday to hear from Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

The company is spending 300m dollars (£166m) building a new shipyard in Halifax, Nova Scotia to prepare for the construction of up to 23 vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy.

The company employs 1,150 people, but intends to expand to 2,000 by 2020 – and has now set its sights on potential recruits in Portsmouth.

Scott Jamieson is the vice president of programs at Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

Mr Jamieson used to work for BAE’s forerunner, BVT Surface Fleet, and lived in Portsmouth.

He moved to Nova Scotia to take up a position with Irving three years ago.

Mr Jamieson told The News: ‘We have a great opportunity in Canada with Irving Shipbuilding.

‘We have a commitment from the Canadian government to shipbuilding to build the Canadian navy’s fleet of the future. We’re also putting in a huge investment and we need to get skilled people.

‘Firstly, we will look at bringing that in from Canada but as we move forward we will need to bring in people from elsewhere.

‘Obviously with recent announcements here in Portsmouth it was an obvious place for us to come and talk to the highly skilled workforce here.’

BAE Systems announced in November last year that it would close down its shipbuilding operations in Portsmouth and move them to Scotland.

The decision means around 940 jobs will be lost in the city.

One BAE worker who went to the jobs event yesterday, and did not want to be named, said: ‘I’m lucky because I don’t really have any ties so I’m really tempted by it all.

‘It might not be so easy for others who work here, though. It sounds like a great offer, and for those of us who can just up sticks it could be a great opportunity.

‘It is a bit sad, though, that while the Canadian shipbuilding industry seems to be going really well, things aren’t the same here.’

Irving Shipbuilding Inc will cut steel next year on the first set of Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships being built for the Canadian navy. After that, the firm will be building frigates and destroyers.

Job descriptions can be found at jdirving.com