Job-saving BAE torpedo contract ‘good news’ for Portsmouth

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SINCE the announcement of 940 job losses as BAE Systems’ brought its shipbuilding operation to a close last year, a number of more positive developments have taken place within the marine and maritime industries.

(Video shows defence secretary Michael Fallon after he announced the contract)

News of BAE Systems' torpedo contract, that will secure jobs, has been welcomed in Portsmouth

News of BAE Systems' torpedo contract, that will secure jobs, has been welcomed in Portsmouth

In the next few weeks, the ship hall at Portsmouth’s naval base will be handed back to the government.

But despite a gloomy outlook after the announcement in November last year, the company has been able to secure other contracts and create more jobs.

In October, the company announced more than 2,000 jobs were being secured as the Ministry of Defence awarded it millions of pounds to manage the base.

The five-year contract, worth £600m, covers the management of the naval base estate, plus warship repairs, maintenance and upgrades.

Former defence secretary Philip Hammond also unveiled a £70m deal in May to safeguard 100 maritime jobs working on the navy’s newest destroyers.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of the council, said: ‘There have been some good news announcements. We have now got the Centre of Marine Intelligent Systems in Portsdown Hill, for instance.

‘It reinforces the government’s position of showing Portsmouth’s importance in the UK defence industry.

‘This will create 100 jobs making torpedoes and with the local supply chain being used more, that will make even more jobs.’

BAE Systems also has a leading role in the newly-created Centre of Marine Intelligent Systems.

The Portsdown Hill centre, opened by minister for Portsmouth Matthew Hancock last month, is researching unmanned marine systems such as autonomous boats and submarines in an expanding international market.

Torpedoes are the ‘fastest in the world’

SPEARFISH Heavyweight torpedoes have been built by BAE Systems in the city for a number of years.

The 20ft weapons, weighing nearly two tonnes a piece, are claimed to be the world’s fastest torpedo.

Spearfish torpedoes are fired from submarines and replaced Tigerfish. It is used by the Royal Navy as a frontline anti-submarine and anti-surface torpedo.

The design is currently undergoing a major upgrade programme.

Following this, Spearfish, pictured being loaded into a submarine, will soon benefit from further advances in its homing, warheads, tactical and fuelling systems, as well an upgraded guidance link, according to BAE Systems.

When asked in the House of Commons about the order in October, Philip Dunne, parliamentary under-secretary for the Ministry of Defence, said: ’BAE Systems has successfully supplied the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with the Spearfish, heavyweight torpedo for a number of years.

‘There is, however, a requirement to upgrade the capability.

‘The MoD and BAE Systems remain engaged to resolve commercial issues.

‘On current plans it is expected that a contract will be awarded within the next few months.’