LUCRATIVE maintenance contracts to fix the Royal Navy’s future Type 26 fleet could be won by Portsmouth, sparking hopes of a dockyard jobs boom.
Although the city lost out on becoming the home of the eight, state-of-the-art warships, there is still a chance it could become the key hub charged with fixing and maintaining them.
The News understands any such deal won’t be confirmed for several years but that defences chiefs and industry partners are giving consideration to the city becoming a maintenance home for the Type 26s.
A source in the MoD said it was ‘too early’ to say precisely where the new vessels would be maintained.
But the official added the issue was ‘completely unrelated’ to the base-porting, opening up the options for Portsmouth.
‘It could be Portsmouth, it could be Devonport,’ the source said. ‘If you think about the Royal Navy’s footprint those are the two obvious contenders.’
The news comes as former council leader Donna Jones pledged to press the government on clinching the contract,
The Tory boss, who spearheaded a campaign the city’s effort to have the Type 26s based in Portsmouth, is writing to defence secretary Gavin Williamson pleading for him to give the city his backing.
Speaking to The News, Councillor Jones said: ‘Portsmouth has got everything on the base for repairs and maintenance.
‘The facilities of the shiphall and dry docks are among the very best in the world. We’re arguably one of the strongest contenders in the country (for the work).’
At the start of this year, bosses at BAE Systems – which is contracted to maintain warships in the city – made 160 people redundant across its maritime sector.
The job-losses included some in Portsmouth, with some staff taking voluntary redundancy.
Ship painter Ken Ferrett worked with BAE Systems on the dockyard for many years before taking voluntary redundancy earlier this year.
He said getting the repair and maintenance work for the Type 26s would be a ‘welcome boost’ for the dockyard.
‘If there is going to be work on the Type 26 that would be good news for Portsmouth dockyard because the work force has been run down for quite a few years.’
He added that the work would have the potential to bring in more contractors to Portsmouth who would help prop up the city’s economy.
Bryan Hulley, regional organiser for union GMB – which represent hundreds of city dockyard workers -, added: ‘We will continue to push for our fair share of that work to go to Portsmouth,
‘Sending work to Portsmouth will help to bring much-needed prosperity for the local economy and protect maritime jobs in the city.’