A Depleted Royal Navy Leads to the Loss of Jobs and Shipbuilding at Portsmouth
Today BAe Systems (British Aerospace) announced that it is to shed around 1,800 jobs from its shipbuilding arm and cease all shipbuilding at Portsmouth. This decision brings to an end almost 500 years of shipbuilding at Portsmouth. Instead BAe has decided to retain a shipbuilding capability on the Clyde in Glasgow in what it stated was purely a commercial decision. The company has stated that the loss of jobs was inevitable with the impending completion of construction of the two huge aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy and the gap before construction of the new Type 26 frigates is scheduled to begin. It cannot have helped that the MOD previously decided to build its two new replenishment ships in South Korea.
Since the 1990’s successive governments have taken an axe to the Royal Navy and this government is no exception. From a world class fleet of over 100 major warships, including 60 frigates and destroyers, in the 1980’s we are now left with under 40 major warships with just 19 frigates and destroyers. This depleted order of battle is not enough to keep the shipyards busy building for the Royal Navy. In the absence of significant overseas orders the closure and job losses announced today were inevitable.
Today the MOD announced an order for construction on the Clyde of three new Offshore Patrol Vessels to replace the three River Class vessels from 2017. In addition more than £100m is to be invested in the Portsmouth Naval Base to expand the dockyard to be capable of handing the two new 70,000 aircraft carriers which will be based there alongside the 6 Type 45 Destroyers. This is welcome but a small compensation for the loss of the orders which would have come from a larger fleet.
Until the British people wake up to the constant risks that the government is taking with our Armed Services and demand an increased Defence budget British military capability will continue to diminish alongside our influence as an ally.
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