Hundreds of jobs safeguarded at Portsmouth Naval Base

Defence minister Philip Dunne on a visit to Portsmouth. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141644-7)
Defence minister Philip Dunne on a visit to Portsmouth. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141644-7)

Ping pong on a flagship

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HUNDREDS of jobs have been protected at Portsmouth Naval Base to ensure design work is carried out on the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates.

A total of 250 engineers employed by defence giant BAE Systems are staying put at the base.

Frigate design work is also being done in Bristol and the Clyde, in Scotland – where BAE Systems is moving its shipbuilding division.

It comes after defence secretary Philip Hammond announced a £70m deal that will ensure 100 engineers will be kept in the city and be involved in the upkeep of the navy’s six Type 45 destroyers.

Announcing the news during his latest visit to Portsmouth, defence equipment minister Philip Dunne said: ‘The naval base has a very secure future.

‘It is one of two Royal Navy surface yards, the other being in Plymouth, and there is no prospect of that changing in our lifetime.’

The Portsmouth design team have been working in different areas of the base, but will now do all of their duties together in the naval base’s Dauntless Building.

That’s because a deal 
has been made by the 
Ministry of Defence to keep leasing the site out to BAE Systems.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘This is another example of the government showing its commitment to Portsmouth and promoting Portsmouth as the home of the Royal Navy.’

The government has yet to order the frigates yet and it hasn’t been decided where they will be based once they are built.

But calls have been made in recent times for them to be based in Portsmouth to ensure a steady flow of work.

Brian Johnson, UK business development director at BAE Systems, said: ‘It was in everyone’s interests that this happened.

‘For the MoD, it’s good to have people designing the Type 2 26 frigates so close to the waterfront.

‘These are engineering jobs, which are of high value in the area.’

John Ferrett, negotiations officer for The Prospect Union, said while he welcomed the engineers keeping their jobs, they were never part of any redundancy programme.