Ferry work a step in the right direction, says Portsmouth MP

BAE has extended its work on Wightlink ferries
BAE has extended its work on Wightlink ferries

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EXTENDED work on the maintenance of cross-Solent ferries has been praised as a step in the right direction for BAE Systems.

The defence firm has signed a new deal to continue its maintenance and repair work with two Solent ferry firms.

The company has extended its contracts with both Wightlink and Red Funnel ferries.

It comes after BAE Systems’ shipbuilding arm announced 940 jobs are to be cut in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock has praised the extra work for the firm’s maintenance arm.

He said: ‘This is good news. It shows they are prepared to do some commercial work on the ship repair side of things.

‘Now they have got to look for more and look at bringing more of this type of work here.

‘There is work to be done on things like private super yachts, they would be a good thing to get in as well.’

BAE Systems has two main arms to its Portsmouth operation, shipbuilding and maritime services.

As reported in The News, it is the shipbuilding division which is looking to pull out of Portsmouth and move its operations to Scotland. The maintenance and repair arm will remain.

Barry Woolley is the head of ships delivery for BAE Systems Maritime Services.

He said: ‘I’m delighted we will continue to provide maintenance and servicing for the cross-Solent ferries.

‘BAE Systems offers commercial vessel maintenance and repair and it’s an area of our business at Portsmouth Naval Base that is thriving.

‘We have the right skills and experience to maintain and support all types of maritime craft from small boats to naval warships so customers can have confidence we will deliver their vessels to suit their operational needs.’

The Wightlink programme will see all seven Portsmouth and Lymington-based ferries undergo up to two-week periods in dock and will include annual inspections, engine, and propulsion unit overhauls and painting.

The work is to be carried out during the winter, with the full fleet repair programme scheduled to get the ships back in full operation for the start of the busy summer season.

Red Funnel has a similar requirement, with all three of their Southampton-based ships visiting Portsmouth Naval Base for annual dockings.