Portsmouth dockyard worker urges campaigners to ‘move on’ from shipbuilding row

The BAE ship hall

in Portsmouth
The BAE ship hall in Portsmouth
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CAMPAIGNERS still fighting to bring new work into a former shiphall have been urged to ‘move on’ and focus on bigger projects for Portsmouth’s dockyard.

It comes as The News learns from a senior source that no new bids are being considered by companies to build commercial ships in a section of the Ministry of Defence-owned hub.

The workforce recognises now that there has been positive spin from BAE and local politicians. But the workforce has moved on. Those that wanted to go have gone, those who wanted to stay in the business have.

Dockyard employee

The bulk of the wider shiphall site, formerly used to build ships until BAE Systems moved the work to Scotland, is now home to a minehunter repair facility known as the Minor War Vessels Centre of Specialisation.

Politicians including city MP Penny Mordaunt have been trying to recruit commercial work to ensure there’s a mix of business in the yard following the loss of shipbuilding.

The government was heavily criticised for failing to protect the work.

One dockyard worker said: ‘The workforce know what happened a few years back – there were promises made and promises were broken.

‘The promise was shipbuilding would come back to Portsmouth and new work would be brought back in there.

‘The workforce recognises now that there has been a positive spin from BAE and local politicians.

‘But the workforce has moved on. Those who wanted to go have gone, those who wanted to stay in the business have.

‘But people are saying now, “why are people still dredging this stuff up, let’s move on”.

‘Soon, both of the carriers will be in service, which means more work for us.

‘The politicians should focus on the propulsion work on the Type 45s being here in Portsmouth, and trying to get Type 23 refit work, which is all being done in Devonport now.

‘Those are the things local politicians should be working on, rather than dredging up stuff from three or four years ago, which seems like they are just trying to cover themselves for breaking their own promises.’

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond praised BAE’s new projects.

She said: ‘Today, the shiphall is occupied by BAE and is very busy with their programme of minehunter refits.

‘This is part of a £600m programme for the maintenance of Royal Navy ships with BAE.

‘HMS Quorn and HMS Atherstone have recently entered refit in the complex.

‘HMS Brocklesby has completed her refit and is heading back into service soon.

‘I fully support the workers who are doing this vital work in support of our Royal Navy in the shiphall and across the entire dockyard.’