A CONTRACT worth £270m to upgrade Royal Navy torpedoes in Portsmouth has been announced today.
(Video shows defence secretary Michael Fallon speaking after he announced the contract)
BAE Systems has won the 10-year contract and will continue work on Spearfish Heavyweight torpedoes at its Broad Oak site in Hilsea, the Ministry of Defence announced at an event this morning.
The move will create 100 jobs at the site.
Penny Mordaunt told The News: ‘This has been a piece of work that BAE and its unions have been working very hard to get and I am delighted that it has been announced.
‘It is great news for the company because it means they have a full order book to provide sustainability for its workforce and justifies its investment in training and skills.
‘It is a significant order and I am really delighted for them. I know a significant amount of jobs are being created and have had four or five meetings with the unions at BAE and the MPs in this area have been involved for some time.
‘David Willetts, Mark Hoban and I have written to the Ministry of Defence about the commercial importance of this contract. It is a significant announcement for us.’
In total, the company has 3,500 people working in the Solent region in the Portsmouth area including at the naval base and Broad Oak.
Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Today’s announcement of a £270m contract to BAE Systems for work on the Royal Navy torpedoes is great news.
‘Firstly it creates new, highly skilled jobs in Portsmouth, but most importantly it reinforces the Solent area and Portsmouth in particular as one of the most important places in the world of design and creation of cutting-edge defence technology.
‘This indicates a very bright future for the Solent region, and reinforces the government’s commitment to the key role the city has to play in the realm of defence.
‘It is really welcome news. We had an announcement earlier in the year about BAE continuing to run the naval base. Now we have got this contract.
‘As much as it was disappointing last year to lose jobs in shipbuilding, there have been some good news announcements.’
Fareham MP Mark Hoban wrote to the Ministry of Defence regarding the contract earlier this year after being lobbied by trade unions representing BAE Systems workers.
He said: ‘It is fantastic and welcome news for BAE. I know that they have worked very hard to secure this contract and it is to the credit of the company and staff as well.
‘My letter was prompted by the trade unions. They lobby MPs and asked us to get involved and I wanted to show my support.
‘A 10-year contract provides a lot of certainty for the future, as well.’
Prospect union negotiator and Portsmouth Labour councillor John Ferrett said the news was welcome, particularly after the job losses in the company’s shipbuilding operation last November.
He said: ‘We have some members there and we have sat down with other trade unions and BAE to discuss Broad Oak and the renewal of this contract.
‘I think it is good news for Prospect members and other trade unions that the contract has been renewed.
‘There has been some uncertainty as to whether it would be over the last few months.
‘It is great news. If it can provide new jobs in light of what happened in the dockyard last year, it is very welcome.’