Tyneside’s Swan Hunter is emerging as the keenest suitor for the Govan shipyard in Glasgow, which has been threatened with closure.
Govan has been put up for sale by Norwegian group Kvaerner following its exit from shipbuilding.
Kvaerner has been asked by Dutch-owned company Swan Hunter to value the facility and is now drawing up a business plan for the yard.
Marconi Marine, soon to become part of British Aerospace following its sale by GEC, has confirmed its interest in transferring work from its yards at Yarrow on the Clyde and at Barrow-in-Furness to Govan.
However, a spokesman for Marconi-Marine ruled out buying the Govan yard. `Work might be transferred there. They have the capacity and skilled workforce but we are not interested in buying,’ the spokesman said.
Govan unions claim that Marconi-Marine’s Barrow yard, which specialises in nuclear submarines, is 15 months behind with work on two Royal Fleet Auxiliary oil replenishment vessels.
`All or part of that work could easily be transferred to Kvaerner Govan, helping us with our shortfall in work,’ said Govan’s union convenor, Jamie Webster.
Govan will run out of work in July, but is on the shortlist for a £240m MoD contract for six troop ferries, which will be decided this autumn.
Management from Glasgow’s Ferguson shipyard has also visited Govan and had talks with the government taskforce which is handling the sale. Ferguson, with a workforce of 300, is much smaller than Govan.
Swan Hunter commercial director Norman Brownell said: `We’re working on our proposals for the yard and discussing the sale with Kvaerner and the taskforce. We’re confident of getting an agreement within the next few weeks.’
Union sources at Govan are not keen on Swan Hunter’s intentions to reduce the 1,200 workforce. `Our task is to keep the labour force intact,’ Webster said.