MoD aircraft carrier contract secures jobs

Published:  18 July, 2007

The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, has confirmed the UK intends to place orders for two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers worth 3.8bn in response to the Government's increase in defence spending over the next three years.

The new 65,000-tonne carriers - HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales - will enter service in 2014 and 2016, and will be the largest vessels sailed by the Royal Navy.

Unite Amicus Section National Officer for Shipbuilding and Aerospace, Bernie Hamilton, said: "This contract is fantastic news for UK manufacturing. It will sustain the UK's 14,000 shipbuilding jobs until 2014 and up to a dozen historic shipyards including Portsmouth, Devonport, Barrow and Rosyth. 

"As well as those directly employed in building the carriers it will guarantee thousands more supply side jobs as well as essential Research and Development skills and jobs."

John Wall, General Secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, said: "This is more than simply work that will fill UK shipyards. This announcement coupled with the creation of the joint venture between BAE Systems on the Clyde and VT in Portsmouth puts the UK in the premier league of global naval shipbuilding. This allows us a real opportunity to get into the export market in the same successful way that we do in the aerospace sector.  

"This is real evidence that Gordon is prepared to invest in UK manufacturing."

The giant carriers will be built in blocks in Portsmouth, Barrow, the Clyde and Rosyth and assembled in Rosyth. In excess of 20,000 jobs will be guaranteed as a result in the engineering, IT and design industries.

There will also be Joint Strike Fighter aircraft contracts to be awarded for the new carriers to the value of 6 billion. The Joint Strike Fighter is an international collaboration led by the US and the UK. Many thousands of UK jobs will be involved in the production of this revolutionary new aircraft.

BAE Systems" chief executive Mike Turner highlighted the importance of the announcement: "This is a significant milestone for the UK maritime industrial sector and will help retain critical areas of expertise in the UK. The two carriers will provide our armed forces with significantly enhanced capability for the next 50 years.

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