Royal Navy: General Electric to set up shop in Portsmouth as base for powering navy ships

AMERICAN conglomerate General Electric has submitted plans to set up a base in Portsmouth to support its work with the Royal Navy.

Its subsidiary, GE Energy Power Conversion UK Limited, has applied to the city council for permission to convert the former HSS Hire building in Herbert Street to support its 'critical' role operating naval vessels.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the proposals were 'a show of faith' from employers in Portsmouth.

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HMS Dragon returning to Portsmouth. General Electric runs power systems for the Type 45s while they are alongside so they do not need to run diesel generators for power. Picture: Royal Navy

The firm runs power systems for Type 45 Destroyers, Type 23 Frigates and the two aircraft carriers which convert electricity from the National Grid for use by the Royal Navy. This work powers the vessels and allows diesel generators to be switched off while they are berthed in Portsmouth.

'GE Naval Service has a team of field service specialists based in Portsmouth to provide rapid and expert support to these vessels to ensure they remain in service and meet their readiness statuses,' a statement submitted with the application says.

'GE also has a number of engineering support and commercial staff whose roles are based in the Portsmouth area providing support to our customers in the naval sector.

'The use of Herbert Street as a hub for personnel both based in Portsmouth and those travelling to Portsmouth to support naval ships will be critical in allowing GE to provide the services crucial to the Royal Navy.'

The site has been unused since the tool and equipment hire firm closed in December 2020.

The application submitted to the council proposes a workshop area alongside traditional office space on a mezzanine floor.

No changes would be made to the exterior of the building with the only work propsed being the interior reconfiguration to accommodate nine members of staff.

'It's good to be on the radar of more and more bigger companies who clearly recognise what Portsmouth has to offer as a very economically-active place,' Cllr Vernon-Jackson said. 'All of these things attest to how attractive this city is

'We have a long history of high-skilled engineering jobs and these sorts of proposals only build on that.'

The application will be considered by council planning officers in the coming weeks.