Ministry of Defence confirm Portsmouth's shiphall is not being '˜remarketed'

THE Ministry of Defence has confirmed it has shut the door on shipbuilding returning to Portsmouth's Naval Base.

Wednesday, 9th March 2016, 6:00 am

The MoD today revealed it is no longer looking to ‘remarket’ the shiphall – which has been vacant since BAE Systems moved its shipbuilding to Scotland in 2014.

An MoD spokeswoman said the decision was based on the results of a ‘comprehensive marketing review’ in 2014, saying a ‘defence use’ for shiphall had now been found.

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‘Having already fully tested the market, remarketing is not required as it is unlikely that any suitable companies will be identified,’ she explained.

Confusion is now mounting on how the giant dockyard facility will be used despite a promise from the MoD it would remain a centre of excellence for ‘the foreseeable future’.

Yesterday, Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said the collapse of the deal between Magma and the MoD could support BAE Systems in expanding its operation inside the facility.

She claimed BAE could spread its work across the two shiphalls within the dockyard. Likewise, the MoD said each facility would provide an ideal space for the defence giant’s minehunter maintenance programme.

However, BAE Systems has denied it has any plans to expand from shiphall ‘B’ into the second site, earmarked for Magma.

Now dockyard trade union official John Ferrett has called for clarity in a plea to rid speculation over the facility’s future.

‘People really need to get their heads together and work for a solution,’ said the negotiations officer for Prospect Union.

‘Then, once we have that solution they should come out and let the public know.

‘What they absolutely have to avoid doing is fuelling speculation.’

Last night the shiphall site – now known as the Vernon Complex – welcomed HMS Brocklesby as part of a major propulsion overhaul on the minehunter.

It comes after the MoD revealed it had ploughed £2m into renovating cranes, ventilation systems and offices as part of this scheme.

An MoD spokeswoman added: ‘This support for minor war vessels will enable these ships to return to the fleet quicker than previously and it is estimated it will save £11.5m over the next 10 years.’

However, a spokeswoman for BAE Systems said that in spite of this investment, no new jobs had been created within the company in the city.