Ministers urged to back plans for maritime skills academy on naval site

HMS Nelson
HMS Nelson
The company of HMS Cattistock line the deck as the ship leaves Portsmouth

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PLANS to set up a maritime skills academy in a historic naval building have been put in front of government ministers.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council has urged those in power to back a plan to turn the wardroom at HMS Nelson into a new Portsmouth Maritime Academy.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson has written to the government to call for the facility to be opened at the wardroom in Queen Street, Portsea.

It comes in the wake of the closure of BAE Systems’ shipbuilding operations in the city.

The proposal, which has the backing of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, would see the navy’s wardroom facilities moved to the former Navy Academy within the walls of the 

This would free up the building opposite HMS Nelson in Queen Street to be transformed into a maritime skills academy.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Since the decision to close down shipbuilding in Portsmouth, the city has been looking at various options to try and protect the economy and the manufacturing skills base within the local population.

‘One of the proposals is for a Portsmouth Maritime Academy to drive skills within the naval, maritime, engineering and support industries.

‘This would have a significant impact in driving up the skills of local people and creating the workforce needed to take advantage of opportunities within the maritime industries.

‘The perfect location would be the wardroom of HMS Nelson, which is adjacent to the naval base.

‘It is a beautiful building but sits outside the security cordon and the conclusion of several recent naval base commanders is that it would be operationally more efficient to relocate the facility within the dockyard 

The council leader’s letter was sent to defence secretary Philip Hammond, minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon, business secretary Vince Cable, and business minister David Willetts.

It comes after the minister for Portsmouth visited the city and met with the council yesterday.