THE commander of the city’s naval base insists its future has ‘never been so secure’ despite concerns over a lack of new work.
Commodore Jeremy Rigby says there is a ‘significant’ amount of money being spent modernising the space to ensure it’s fit for a ‘modern’ Royal Navy and the new carriers.
With a long term future assured for at least the life of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers (2070 plus), there is a significant amount of investment underway to make sure that we have a modern base for the modern navy.Commodore Jeremy Rigby, Portsmouth naval base commander
It comes after Old Portsmouth resident Jon Cole wrote to The News saying the city ‘lacked vision’ and not enough is being done to attract opportunities.
Political leaders and unions have also said there is a lack of progress being made to create more jobs in the shiphall facility.
Responding to Mr Cole’s concerns in a letter, Cdr Rigby said the activity in the dockyard will be ‘enduring’ and Portsmouth ‘should take confidence from that’.
‘I thought it might be helpful if I just corrected a misconception that seems to continue about the future of Portsmouth Naval Base,’ he said. ‘Its future has never been more secure.
‘It is the Royal Navy’s main operating base for carriers (the only base from which they can operate), the Type 45 destroyers, half of the frigates plus minehunters and patrol boats. The Commander of the Portsmouth flotilla currently has 33 vessels under his command.
‘With a long-term future assured for at least the life of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers (2070-plus), there is a significant amount of investment under way to make sure that we have a modern base for the modern navy.’
Councillor John Ferrett, Labour group leader and Prospect union official, said: ‘I don’t disagree with the fact there is a huge amount of work going on in the dockyard and over the next few years we have the carrier, hopefully two carriers, coming down here. But we still await a decision over the second carrier.
‘It still doesn’t take away the fact we have lost a major capability in terms of shipbuilding.’
Cdr Rigby added warship tonnage would exceed the levels in the 1950s by 2020 – and there is ‘demand for a local skilled civilian work force, including more apprentices and graduates, to maintain these complex modern vessels’.