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Sunday, 25 November 2012

BAE Systems boss says shipyard may close

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One of BAE Systems' major shipyards could be closed, the company's UK chief executive Nigel Whitehead has said.

He told the Sunday Telegraph a decision would be made by the end of the year.

The firm was working with ministers to explore all options for maintaining the UK's shipbuilding capability, he said.

The future of its three main shipyards - in Portsmouth, and Govan and Scotstoun on the River Clyde - after two new aircraft carriers are completed has been in doubt for some time.

There are fears there will be insufficient work available to keep all three busy and profitable as cuts in defence spending take their toll.

"The issue is how to consolidate... but make sure that we've preserved the capability to design and manufacture complex warships," Mr Whitehead told the newspaper.

"We anticipate that there will be a reduction in footprint and we anticipate... that part of that might actually be the cessation of manufacturing at one of the sites."

Earlier this year the company appointed consultants to carry out a review of the business. The firm's yard in Portsmouth is widely believed to be the most vulnerable, with 1,500 jobs at risk.

However, two bases on the River Clyde, at Govan and Scotstoun (The old Yarrow shipyard) are also under scrutiny.

BAE Systems says it is working closely with the government to explore all options for maintaining the UK's shipbuilding capability.

The Ministry of Defence says that it is up to the company itself to decide how best to deliver the naval vessels

For more on the story see BBC Scotland website

The Rise and Fall of British Shipbuilding The Rise and Fall of British Shipbuilding
This is the story of how, from modest beginnings, Britain rose throughout the 19th century to become the greatest shipbuilding nation in the world. It begins with the age of sail, then moves on to the days of iron-hulled steamers. It shows how conflicts arose between the traditional shipwrights and the new men who came from the metal industries, leading to the infamous demarcation disputes. It is also the story of men like Brunel and Armstrong, geniuses who were always looking for change and development. It is also the story of decline in the 20th century, when yards were no longer as innovative as their foreign competitors and the British merchant fleet shrank from being the biggest in the world at the start of the century to ranking number 38 at the end of it. It is a story of great achievements and tragic collapse.

While the above news is not new to the shipbuilders involved what is pretty new is being regarded as “A Footprint” you just have to love the buzzwords being used today, the British Isle’s losing yet another hard pressed shipyard, is it any wonder that the last two ships ordered by the U.K. Government went to a yard in Korea, this was for the build of two new fleet oil tankers for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary a job that was only tendered by one of the remaining shipyards in Britain and even they dropped out of the running as they felt they did not have the required expertise anymore to build such a vessel,

along with another less well publicised ship to be built that being a research ship for work in the Antarctic by the National Environmental Research Centre.

All in all a pretty damming indictment on a country that just gives up on it’s skills base because the bean counters run it all now.

This ship is being built in Northern Spain and is due to be launched next autumn.

A ship to do the same work as the RSS BRANSFIELD which was built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb in 1970

Nothing against the shipbuilders of Northern Spain they have been building ships for many years but why is this work not being done in a British yard and helping to secure the future of the skills required to build ships of this type, a question that has been asked of successive governments since the demise of the fiasco which was British Shipbuilders in the 1980’s.

A picture above of the RSS BRANSFIELD at work in Antarctica (Photo by G.Hart)
doing the type of work that the new ship will also be doing the one that is just now being built in Northern Spain.

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