Portsmouth shipbuilding ends as BAE Systems cuts marine division

2 min read

A total of 1,775 BAE Systems staff are to lose their jobs following a decision by the company to restructure its maritime division.

BAE’s Portsmouth facility will shed 940 staff and cease shipbuilding in 2014. A further 835 positions are being cut over the next three years at Filton, Glasgow and Rosyth.

BAE anticipates a significant reduction in workload following peak activity on the Aircraft Carrier programme, the six Type 45 destroyers and two export contracts.

Under the Terms of Business Agreement signed with BAE Systems in 2009, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would have been liable to pay for any periods when no shipbuilding was taking place at UK yards.

Under the new arrangement, the MoD will meet the cost of the restructuring exercise that will see BAE consolidate its shipbuilding operations in Glasgow.

BAE said it will invest in Glasgow ‘to create a world-class capability, positioning it to deliver an affordable Type 26 [global combat ship] programme for the Royal Navy.’

The defence company added that Lower Block 05 and Upper Blocks 07 and 14 of the second Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier will be allocated to Glasgow and that three new Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels, announced today by the MoD, would be constructed on the Clyde.

Defence secretary Philip Hammond announced that over £100m will be invested in HM Naval Base Portsmouth, which will be home to aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

The money will expand the dockyard to ensure it is ready for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s biggest ever warships as well as the Type 45 destroyers, which are based in Portsmouth.

BAE said it remains committed to continued investment in the Portsmouth area as the centre of its Maritime Services and high-end naval equipment and combat systems business.

Reacting to today’s news, David Hulse, GMB national officer and chair of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Union’s Shipbuilding National Committee, said: ‘Following today’s announcement from BAE Systems we are able to confirm that no shipyard will be closing even though there are substantial job losses in the pipeline.

‘There is no doubt that this is a devastating day for the UK shipbuilding industry and the company will have to justify to us the job losses planned.

‘GMB is genuinely concerned about the future of the UK shipbuilding industry as the skills, if lost, will never be replaced. We have already seen a lost generation where no apprentices have been trained.

‘GMB also has serious concerns about the defence capabilities of the Royal Navy to defend UK interests in this uncertain world.’

In a statement, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council added: ‘I condemn the decision to shut down the last remaining shipyard in England with the capability to build advanced surface warships.

‘This decision is bad for Portsmouth, with the loss of many highly-skilled jobs, but it’s also bad for the defence of the UK and for the Royal Navy.

‘The remaining yards with the capability to build advanced warships are in Scotland, and the referendum on Scottish independence is less than one year away. Ministers have put the defence of the UK and the future of the navy at real risk.’