Defence firm BAE systems scoops £1.3bn deal to maintain Royal Navy fleet and base in Portsmouth

HUNDREDS of dockyard jobs have been safeguarded in Portsmouth after a defence giant secured a lucrative £1.3bn deal.

By Tom Cotterill
Friday, 2nd April 2021, 12:01 am

BAE Systems has won two contracts from the Ministry of Defence which will see the firm continuing to play a critical role at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The first deal, worth a whopping £900m, will see BAE continuing to maintain and repair the entire naval fleet in Portsmouth, including the navy’s two new aircraft carriers HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The second contract, worth £356m, will see BAE joining forces with tech firm KBR to modernise the naval base’s facilities and dockyard services as part of a new joint venture called KBS Maritime.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth joins HMS Prince of Wales at Portsmouth Naval Base for the first time

Leaders at BAE Systems said the ‘exciting’ five-year deal could bolster maritime firms across the Solent, who could be called in to help deliver key work at the naval base.

David Mitchard, managing director of BAE Systems’ maritime services wing, said: ‘These new contracts will enable us to continue our vital role in supporting the Royal Navy, at home and abroad, building on our long history of delivery, investment and collaboration at Portsmouth Naval Base.’

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The contracts will commence on October 1 following a brief transition period and form part of the MoD’s future maritime support programme competition.

An image of what Portsmouth Naval Base looks like from above

News of the deal has been welcomed by political leaders from across Portsmouth.

Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, said the agreement would boost prospects for the city and the naval base.

The former defence secretary told The News: ‘This is good news and means BAE can continue to plan and invest in our city. Together with the navy’s developing partnerships with industry to create hundreds of apprenticeships we now have assurances that both skills and jobs will remain strong.’

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth City Council’s boss, said the deal would maintain the naval base’s reputation as one of the most important in Europe.

HMS Queen Elizabeth being worked on by BAE Systems at Portsmouth Naval Base. Photo: BAE Systems / Tobias Smith

But the council chief had his reservations about costly government deals being outsourced to private companies and has called on future work to be done ‘in-house’ at the naval base.

He said: ‘I'm pleased people have kept their jobs in Portsmouth and that maintenance work will stay in the city and won't go to Plymouth. That’s really good for securing jobs in Portsmouth.

‘But I think we have gone too far in public services with all the transfer of work to the private sector.

‘It’s becoming more and more clear that actually the NHS and councils are best providing services directly and not paying private companies to do so at higher cost.’

The entrance to Portsmouth Naval Base. Photo: John Gasser

BAE Systems and its legacy companies have supported the navy at Portsmouth Naval Base for more than 20 years.

Mr Mitchard said the latest cash deal allowed BAE to continue with its ‘long-term’ plans, acting as a ‘launch pad’ for further investment in the naval base.

In particular, the defence firm boss said he was eager to continue with work to improve the military hub’s green credentials, making it more environmentally friendly.

BAE has already help the base slash its carbon emissions from 100,000 tonnes to 35,000 tonnes a year, through the introduction of new electric vehicles and the construction of its state-of-the-art combined heat and power plant which provides energy for the aircraft carriers while they’re alongside.

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