Monday, November 26th 2012 - 20:00 UTC

UK to consolidate three major complex warships’ manufacturing yards

One of BAE Systems' major shipyards could be closed, the company's UK chief, Nigel Whitehead, has said. He told the Sunday Telegraph a decision would be made by the end of the year.

BAE Nigel Whitehead working with government on options to retain shipbuilding capacity  (Photo: Ray Troll)

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 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 it has already agreed to produce.

In October, BAE Systems and Franco-German firm EADS cancelled their planned merger, after talks were thwarted by political deadlock.

The UK had wanted its counterparts to agree to limit their influence in the merged firm in order to maintain BAE's strong working relations with the US Pentagon.

19 comments Feed

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1 Anbar (#) Nov 26th, 2012 - 08:16 pm Report abuse
not enough money floating around (get it?) at the moment for people to be spending lots of BIG warships....

Its going to be a while before there is again.... at least we'll get both the super-carriers .. though its s ahem we wont have anything to fly from them.
2 briton (#) Nov 26th, 2012 - 09:01 pm Report abuse
yes yes mr camaron, stick ya bloody head in the sand,
and watch another company go west,

why not just get rid of evrything , just so long as your overseas aid is ok,
usles twit.
3 Anbar (#) Nov 26th, 2012 - 09:59 pm Report abuse
The “irony” about overseas aid is that whilst the USA can use its military muscle to achieve diplomacy via threat-of-force we, the little UK, cna achieve our goals by giving lots of money to other countries.

Which begs the question: how come we have soldiers supporting the USA in a couple of countries?

And: Who exactly gets this money?

And: How come we're sending billions abroad when we cant even pay our own debts at home?
4 Pirate Love (#) Nov 26th, 2012 - 10:58 pm Report abuse
why stick to just military production and design?, while the belt tightens why not use the surplus expertise to venture into other areas of maritime vessels, instead of losing them abroad.
5 JuanGabriel (#) Nov 26th, 2012 - 11:35 pm Report abuse
@4 because any other vessels are massively cheaper to build abroad. See the Mars contract which is being fulfilled in Korea. The shipbuilding industry simply cant compete on a commercial level with foreign competitors. A couple of yards are sustainable on naval contracts but the shipbuilding programme has to be set to ensure continuity so its no use building loads at once and then nothing for years.

I would think it would be more prudent to keep Pompey and close one of the Scottish yards given the uncertainty regarding Scottish independence
6 ProRG_American (#) Nov 26th, 2012 - 11:35 pm Report abuse
Things getting a little tight I see.
7 Pirate Love (#) Nov 26th, 2012 - 11:58 pm Report abuse
@6 are we talking global tight or argentina cripling tight?

@5 needs must i suppose its a pity the yards could not be used to scrap argentine vessels instead of them wasting away in african ports
8 Britworker (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 09:19 am Report abuse
My thoughts exactly, surely closing one facility in Scotland would be more logical, I doubt this logic will be overlooked in the end - it's not as if they can complain based on the course they have embarked on.
9 GeoffWard2 (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 11:09 am Report abuse
Yup, Portsmouth and ano (Contingency planning for the planned parting of the ways).
Now ... where shall we put the Faslane facility? ... deep water port .. England .. has to be Plymouth (can't risk Milford Haven, the Welsh might take the Scottish route. Can't sub-contract to Bantry Bay, too much history).
10 JuanGabriel (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 11:56 am Report abuse
@9 Devonport currently acts as a base for the nuclear submarines and refeulling and refit but it is not suitable for weapon storage and arming.

If Scotland were to demand immediate withdrawal from the Clyde after independence we would relocate the warheads to the US (where the missiles are already stored) either until a new base it built (years) or permanently.
11 Conqueror (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 01:22 pm Report abuse
@6 Just as a thought. WE are building two SUPER carriers and five NUCLEAR-powered submarines at this moment. Have you got a contract from Legoland yet?
@8 Agreed. I've dropped them a line on the subject. Scots may as well get used to job losses.
@10 You might want to recall that the UK has already indicated that it fully intends to maintain Sovereign Base areas in Scotland. And what's Scotland going to do about it?
12 slattzzz (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 04:44 pm Report abuse
@10 France has a nuclear weapon storage facility in Brest just 161 miles away from Guzz (plymouth)
13 briton (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 07:42 pm Report abuse
a couple of Oceanic Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy, with an investment of 150 or so million pounds
Badly needed, but the government says no,
To be clear: the place of the Type 45 destroyer is not in the sea in front of Somalia to chase pirate boats, but it is at the flank of HMS Illustrious in the middle of the Cougar 12 task group

Yet we send and operate a billion pound state of the art destroyer to look after pirates,
That a smaller boat could deal with.
14 Zethee (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 08:45 pm Report abuse
”If Scotland were to demand immediate withdrawal from the Clyde after independence we would relocate the warheads to the US (where the missiles are already stored) either until a new base it built (years) or permanently.”

Clyde isn't our only nuclear weapon storage base. We've been storing hundreds of US nukes for decades in other UK bases. We would simply use one of these bases untill there is a new naval base.

In the last thirty years we've been keeping more US nukes in our bases(not including Clyde) than we have nukes of our own.
15 zethe (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 08:52 pm Report abuse
Just to add: Lakenheath is one such site that has been storing hundreds of US nukes for about 50 years.
16 ProRG_American (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 09:07 pm Report abuse
Good News!!

What Next?
Judge Greisas Ruling overturned by appeal?
ARA Libertad is freed from captivity?
Grain Prices Soar?
New Major oil discovery in patagonia?
World Bank says Argentina rduced its poverty by 50%?
World Bank says Argentine middle class the fastest growing in the region?
Argentina pays it's cooperative bond holders on time?
Cristina's chances for reelection suddenly skyrocket?

HOOOoooooo! Shrugging shoulders......It gives me chiiiils all over my body.
17 zethe (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 09:19 pm Report abuse
Share prices in the end are all you lot can quote, still not going to stop them from developing the oil they have found to be there.

Still not going to going the islands into Argentina.
18 British_Kirchnerist (#) Nov 27th, 2012 - 09:39 pm Report abuse
So there goes the only halfway decent argument (that never convinced me anyway!) for the arms trade, that it creates jobs. Now we're making just as many guns with less jobs, another Cameron classic!
19 Conqueror (#) Nov 28th, 2012 - 05:58 pm Report abuse
@18 Importantly, less Scottish jobs. You'll be glad to know that I've contacted BAE suggesting closure of a Scottish yard. One next year. And the other one when you get independence.

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