Shipbuilding plan could be '˜key to the door' for Portsmouth

SHIPBUILDING should be spread around the country, not just on the Clyde, a report is due to recommend.

Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 7:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:40 pm
Welding taking place on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Sarah Standing

Sir John Parker is set to reveal the national shipbuilding strategy, commissioned by government.

The Financial Times has reported it recommends moving some work away from BAE Systems-run shipyards on the Clyde in Scotland.

The BBC reports Sir John will call for more modular construction of ships at various locations.

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Glasgow-based GMB union Scotland officer Gary Cook, who was formerly Portsmouth regional officer, said modular construction – as recommended in the report – could lead to work for the city.

He said: ‘The Royal Fleet Auxillary ships, those would be the key to the door that could bring shipbuilding back to Portsmouth in a modular build as Sir John Parker has outlined.

‘We must have the RFA ships built in the UK.

‘It’s fine and dandy talking about the about the Type 31 but what we need is something to maintain us.’

He added: ‘It’s the only opportunity.

‘There’s still many shipbuilders, who’ve long spent their redundancy, walking the cobbles of Portsmouth.’And it comes as Sir Michael Fallon, defence secretary, is yet to announce where eight general purpose Type 31 frigates will be built.

According to the FT, Sir John’s report will recommend a push to hand contracts to other industrial centres in Britain, have an affordable export-led focus on ship designs of the future, and thirdly to make sure skilled manufacturing jobs are in the UK, not just top design work.

The newspaper also quotes a Ministry of Defence official who said focussing on BAE ‘poses problems’ and may not help with ‘innovation and entrepreneurship’.

As reported, MPs on the Defence Select Committee have demanded answers over how the fleet will be replaced.