DEFENCE secretary Gavin Williamson has been urged to make Portsmouth the hub responsible for repairing the navy’s future fleet of hi-tech frigates.
The Tory chief has faced increased pressure from the city to make Portsmouth the main refit centre of the Type 26 frigate.
It comes after the Portsmouth lost out on being the base for the eight-strong fleet of warships, which will call HMNB Devonport, in Plymouth, their home.
Leaders from Portsmouth City Council have already vowed to lobby the government for the top role, which could be worth millions to the island’s economy.
And the campaign has today been ramped up by Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, who has demanded a ‘prompt answer’ from Mr Williamson in a letter.
Writing to the defence secretary, the Labour MP said the city was ‘tinged with some disappointment’ over the base-porting of the frigates, which had been taken following advice from military and industry leaders.
But he said he was ‘keen’ to highlight Portsmouth’s ‘wealth of technical expertise’ which could one day support the Type 26 fleet.
He wrote: ‘Our dockyard is unrivalled in its skill and knowledge base, having served our Royal Navy and the nation for over 500 years. Portsmouth built the first dry dock in 1495 and remains at the cutting edge of naval engineering to this day.
‘However, it’s vital this skill-base is retained and sustained through the provision of regular maintenance and ship repair work.
‘I’m writing to ask that the government support the number of highly-skilled, well-paid jobs in my city and commit to Portsmouth dock workers undertaking the repair and maintenance work on the new frigates.’
As previously reported, insiders with the Ministry of Defence claimed Portsmouth was being ‘considered’ by chiefs as the main port to refit the Type 26.
However, The News understand that despite the pressure being placed on the MoD in the aftermath of last week’s base-porting news, it is unlikely any decision on where the ships will be repaired will be made anytime soon, with sources saying an announcement could be ‘years away’.