Shipbuilding could return to Portsmouth, says BAE Systems chairman

The BAE shipbuilding sheds in Portsmouth Naval Base
The BAE shipbuilding sheds in Portsmouth Naval Base
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The chairman of BAE Systems says a return to building warships in Portsmouth is feasible in the event of a Scottish vote for independence.

Sir Roger Carr said the defence firm could resume construction in the city as the government has no intention of building warships in a foreign country.

It comes after BAE Systems announced in November that it would close its shipbuilding operation in Portsmouth and move to the Clyde.

But there has been criticism of the decision being taken before the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum in September is known.

Sir Roger’s comments came in a BBC documentary about the potential impact of Scottish independence.

When asked about the prospect of a UK government placing shipbuilding orders in an independent Scotland, Sir Roger said: ‘It is certainly not their history and it is certainly absolutely – according to their public statement – not their intention.

‘The history is, we build warships in the United Kingdom for the United Kingdom.

‘No evidence of a belief in change of that view.’

He added: ‘Portsmouth is a key part of the business.

‘It is where we do the maintenance, it’s still the home of the Royal Navy, but it isn’t where we intend to manufacture new ships and we will await the government’s view as to what happens next in the event Scotland does decide to become an independent entity.’

When asked if it was feasible for shipbuilding to return to Portsmouth, Sir Roger said: ‘Everything is feasible.

‘It’s only a matter of money, time and skills.

‘But they’re not immaterial issues in what would be a very material decision.’