Monday, December 10th 2012 - 02:20 UTC

MPs warn Falklands’ security compromised if shipbuilding in Portsmouth is closed down

The Sunday edition of The Independent reports that an unlikely coalition of right-wing MPs and union leaders have warned that the security of the Falkland Islands would be compromised by shutting BAE Systems' shipbuilding operations in Portsmouth.

Defence Secretary Hammond has been considering such and option for several months

According to UK political sources the defence giant seems certain to confirm early in the New Year that Portsmouth, where the ‘Mary Rose’ was built, will be closed due to a lack of future work, costing up to 1.500 jobs.

BAE has been building two Queen Elizabeth class warships worth a combined £5bn in Portsmouth and in two yards on the River Clyde, but after the middle part of this decade there is a lull until the Type 26 Global Combat ship program is under way.

Gary Cook, the regional GMB officer who looks after employee relations at the Portsmouth yard, said: “We've barely enough ships to secure the Falklands at the moment. What with the Argentine economy where it is and oil having been found do we really want to go cap-in-hand to the French to borrow some ships if we need to protect them?”

There is also a concern in the industry that the job losses would mean rare, vital skills are lost to the nation. As a result, even if shipbuilding demand did increase again BAE would be unable to find sufficient staff to undertake the orders.

Sir Gerald Howarth, the former defence minister and a Conservative MP in Hampshire, said the government must ensure that “the defence of the realm” is not undermined by BAE decision.

However, data supplied by consultant LEK is understood to have showed BAE that keeping three yards open is economically challenging at best. This information is thought to have been passed on to business secretary Vince Cable during a visit to the defence group's Portsmouth facilities last week.

Sir Gerald said: “We are a maritime nation with 92% of our trade being by sea. Therefore maintaining our position on the high seas, protecting our trade routes, and defending our interests, not least the Falklands are important.”

Separately, a team led by former Ministry of Defence mandarin Admiral Sir Robert Walmsley produced a report suggesting Portsmouth is the most likely shipbuilding operation to be axed. Defence secretary Philip Hammond has been considering Sir Robert's findings for several months.

A closure will be a reminder of the difficulties facing the defence market, two months after BAE merger with Airbus-owner EADS was blocked by the German government, concludes the report.

Meanwhile it was reported that Germany is set to join France and Spain as a direct shareholder in EADS under new plans unveiled by the European aerospace and defence firm. EADS announced that Germany and France will eventually hold equal states of about 12% and Spain, 4%.

It said this allows the countries to “protect their strategic interests”. Under the terms of the agreement, current shareholders German carmaker Daimler and French media firm Lagardere will reduce their stakes.

“Today is a good day for EADS! We are making a big leap forward in terms of governance, actually the most important change since the creation of our company more than 12 years ago,” said Tom Enders, chief executive of EADS.

It also gives EADS “the freedom of movement it needs to pursue its development”, he added.

Earlier this year, a planned 45bn dollars merger of EADS and BAE Systems fell through after the UK, French and German governments failed to overcome political objections.

The UK wanted its counterparts to agree to limit their influence in the merged firm in order to maintain BAE strong working relations with the US Pentagon, while it is understood that Germany was fundamentally opposed to the deal.

41 comments Feed

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1 Lord Ton (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 02:33 am Report abuse
Argentina uses the Falklands to promote its nationalist ideals amongst the population.

It appears that we have some that would use the Falklands for their own political ends.

Regardless of what is said, the Falklands are safe - if only because the British Government that lost them would not be safe !
2 Nostrolldamus The 2nd (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 02:41 am Report abuse
Ironic, that the British may keep all their military facilities “going” even when they can't afford them by using the Falklands as the reasoning. May work in the short term to sustain might but in the long run it may lead to the sad irony that Argentina causes the UK to go bankrupt.
3 Lord Ton (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 02:59 am Report abuse
Don't be daft lad - we've been bankrupt for Centuries :-)
4 Think (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 03:10 am Report abuse
Don’t be condescendent - calling my Argie lads lads lad.
5 Hot & Sticky (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 04:16 am Report abuse
Indeed it is a shame that UK politics can reduce this issue to maintain a workforce, as there is no real threat at all from Argentina just hot air to galvanise peoples behind nationalistic retric to misguide against a screwed up ecomonomy, sounds like the global standard lately
6 Lord Ton (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 05:00 am Report abuse
How many lads do you want Think?

And that should probably be 'condescending' .... but then I AM superior :-)
7 Pete Bog (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 08:57 am Report abuse
Saying there are not enough ships to defend the Falkland Islands is somewhat misleading as all we need is one sub and one T-45 to ruin a day for the whole of Argentinas armed forces.

I bet Chavez would get a good spanking if he assisted too.

Some people actually seem to forget that in the last 30 years the aircraft carrier at MPA exists and if the RGs start kicking off, within 48 hours we could REALLY militarise the South Atlantic big style.

Pity the UK phased out the Sea EagleTornado squadron, though am I right in thinking Sea Eagles are still kept in storage? They could by themselves be used to sink the RGs' scrapyard challenge'.

If the Argentine coastguard start threatening ships it will be another bad hand the RGs play.

They don't seem to be very good do they as most of the cards they deal are jokers.
8 Britworker (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 10:30 am Report abuse
I think this more about not closing the English one and leaving the two Scottish ones operating.
9 Conqueror (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 11:16 am Report abuse
@2 Listen, sonny, two British grandmothers could beat the shite out of argieland. But, just to be on the safe side, we'll keep a few subs and a few aircraft with which to CRUSH you into oblivion. You need to acquire some basic skills, for when you're back in the Stone Age!
10 Huntsman Extraordinaire (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 11:17 am Report abuse
Our navy needs more ships anyway, if it's going to defend the super air craft carriers we are building at least. Stop cutting the defence budget and place some more orders for the good old T-45s etc.

BTW, for anyone who hasn't, please sign my petition! Or share it amongst your friends. 72 signed so far!
11 Clyde15 (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 11:22 am Report abuse
The problem is that there are not enough orders for new naval vessels to go around. This would indicate an overcapacity in this respect .
I do not think that any of us has the insight to say which yards are the most efficient and will have to leave it to the “experts” or commercial decisions. Whichever yard is closed - if any - it will be a blow to the community.
Earlier in the year, South Korean shipbuilders were awarded a contract to build 4 large refuelling tankers for the RFA.
It seems ironic that orders are being placed overseas whilst talking of closing one yard in the UK.
However, to say that Falkland's security will be compromised is an exaggeration. For the foreseeable future Argentina could not mount any sort of invasion or pose a military threat to the islands
12 andy65 (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 12:32 pm Report abuse
@Think Just wondered if The botox Queen will be placing any orders for new military equipment or she happy using them old steamers and sailing ships??
13 slattzzz (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 01:31 pm Report abuse
Personally and this is my opinion I think one of the scottish yards will be put in mothballs until the Scottish Independance vote is done and dusted if they gain independance one or both will definately go as will Faslane and Rosyth which will be a massive blow for Scotland. Don't bite my head off it's just my opinion as ex Royal Navy and resident of Scotland
14 Condorito (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 01:49 pm Report abuse
Britworker is absolutely right. This is all about the politics of devolution.

But devolved or not devolved, the deeper problem facing all European heavy industry is how to get those orders back from the far East.
15 Huntsman Extraordinaire (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 03:48 pm Report abuse
I can't see how you could... That is until the Far East catches up with our standards; and even then you would have to compete with their rates of pay, which in a country like China will remain low.

A possible example of getting out of the fix:

The South Koreans are very clever and credit to them; they have the words largest ship yard and have developed techniques of 'portakabin' style ships. They are a MEDC and maybe to take a leaf out of their books and focus a little less on improving the quality of our products (which lets be frank is one of the reasons why we are a ton more expensive; aside from R&D (eg. Mercedes-Benz spends over £1M per day on R&D alone - China just nicks their ideas) and also our labour costs) and more focus on innovating more ways of building quicker to make labour costs per ship less. The South Koreans can knock out a 13000 cargo box transport ship in 3 weeks! How long would it take to do something so HUGE here?!
16 Think (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 05:13 pm Report abuse
6) Mr Lorton

I'm sure you are superior than me on many sports and fields.....
But challenge me on some Argie sports like Croquet, Whist or Welly Wanging and I’ll sweep the floor with your remains...., lad :-)
17 Clyde15 (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 05:13 pm Report abuse
I can agree with your first point as to standards but it is a double edged weapon.
When I had dealings with John Browns shipyard in the early 1960''s they were building a liner called the Kungsholm I was in and out the yard checking on Customs matters and I got to talking with two Swedish surveyors who were checking the building of the ship. They said that they would never again order a ship from this yard. I was a bit shocked at this because I thought we built ships rather well. When I asked if it was not well enough built, they said it is too well built. They will not build the ship we want. It is only required to last 10 years - this one will last 50 years . They are making it so strong that it will survive any sea thrown at it and they will not compromise on the build.
The Yard's view is that they only know how to build ships one way - the best - but this costs more than we wanted to pay.
Sad, but true, the yard could not compete with new shipyards in the Far East and eventually closed with most of the shipbuilding industry.
It appears that the modern adage is “never mind the quality, feel the width ”
18 Steve-32-uk (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 05:19 pm Report abuse
'HMS Audacious: New Super Submarine For Navy'
19 GeoffWard2 (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 05:23 pm Report abuse
I'm pretty sure that this is part of the process of removing as much industrial activity to south of the border in advance of Scotland going their own way.
You can't continue threatening to do it without the leaders of industry, commerce and the professions taking precautionary forward planning and re-locating their assets.
I feel no imperative to be even-handed about this; the more that relocates south, the happier I will be.
Re-locations should be part of a 21st century build of facilities that match those of South Korea. If BAE is to remain un-amalgamated, it needs the newest of facilities to compete on the world scale... find the best that the world has on offer - the USA, and improve on that.
20 andy65 (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 05:35 pm Report abuse
@GeoffWard2 Tend to agree also with the news Scotland would have to re aply to gain entry into The EU I would be thinking twice about going it alone if I was Scottish
21 ynsere (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 06:11 pm Report abuse
The good news is that Falklands security is high enough amongst the priorities of the British electorate for a possible loss of defence capability of the islands to be given as an argument against proposed economic action in the UK.
22 Steve-32-uk (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 06:19 pm Report abuse
Latest FI related news from South America...

'The Seabourn Sojourn would have raised his season in Ushuaia -
The owner of the boat would intend to make a circuit that does not include any port of Argentina, sailing between Montevideo and Valparaiso, with stops in the Falklands and Punta Arenas. “For it shall pass through the territorial waters of Tierra del Fuego, and are not going to allow” forward from organizations and political parties that were expressed by the effective enforcement of the law Gaucho Rivero.'

'Uruguay will discuss military cooperation agreement with the U.S. - The arrival in our country of a high-level delegation of the Department of Defense of the United States reopened questions about the advisability of signing a new bilateral military cooperation.'
23 Clyde15 (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 06:47 pm Report abuse
Tend to disagree.
24 slattzzz (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 06:57 pm Report abuse
sorry clyde15 as a resident of scotland I have to agree
25 Joe Bloggs (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 07:04 pm Report abuse
22 Steve32

Many thanks for that. It looks very interesting.

Being the mono-lingual thicky that I am, would you mind doing us all a favour and translating? I must have it wrong but it looks like the ship plans to cut your country entirely out of its program. Is that what it says?
26 Steve-32-uk (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 07:12 pm Report abuse
@20 andy65
@23 Clyde15
@24 slattzzz

What do you think would happen to our overseas territories with Scottish independence?
27 Condorito (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 07:13 pm Report abuse
BAE is a business and they will want to hold on to the most productive sites, be they in England or Scotland. Politician and unions will fan the flames and try to force BAE decision based on politics not business.

If UK industry is still under the illusion (as you are) that South Korea makes inferior products then the decline is going to continue. Over-engineering a product is not the same as making a superior product, it is a sign that you don’t know your market and/or can't change fast enough.
28 slattzzz (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 07:51 pm Report abuse
@26 nothing the status quo will remain I feel most of the BOT's remain so because of their allegence to the monachy personally I don't think Scottish independance will happen anyway, salmond and ginger are losing support all the time and people are starting to realise most of the arguements are more about his ego than anything when asked questiions about defence, the EU, the Euro, the monachy, etc he ALWAYS says it's sabre rattling because he has no answer or definitive policys on any and people are seeing through it now after the initial national fervour, however, I do believe they will be given more power for taxes etc in the long run
29 Steve-32-uk (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 07:52 pm Report abuse
@25 Joe Bloggs
Thanks. Glad to see someone appreciates the hours I spend trawling through news articles to link you these stories. Unlike the cheeky tw*t Anbar who called me 'CFK's latest sock puppet' and still hasn't apologised.

Still waiting...
30 slattzzz (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 08:07 pm Report abuse
@29 you'll have a long wait buddy, they never admit to being wrong let alone apologise they just change the subject
31 Think (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 10:02 pm Report abuse
( 29) Steve-32-uk

Haven't said anything before so the turnips wouldn't acuse you of being CFK's latest sock puppet........
I can see that it happened anyway so......

Thanks for the good links.....
32 slattzzz (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 10:11 pm Report abuse
@31 yeah cheers Stink / guzz for your input
33 Joe Bloggs (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 10:30 pm Report abuse

Come on old man. Tell about the Sojourn. Where's she heading?
34 Clyde15 (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 11:58 pm Report abuse
I should have explained myself better. The tendency now is to build to a price for almost everything, and not to a quality The throw-away society has permeated everywhere - even to military contracts. The tankers on order from S.Korea will be built to the quality required. My beef is that these ships could just as easily have been built in the UK- not built any better,
The money paid to the S,Koreans will affect our balance of payments adversely.
Our MOD tender for warship design and then see what they can cut out, purely to save money in their budget year and end up with an inferior product, An example I believe was the type 42 Destroyers. The original design called for a larger vessel but to save money it was redesigned. Then from experience the Batch 3 were built, back to the original plans.

With a load of English MP's hell bent on getting the UK out of the EU, Scotland would be in no worse position !

Removing most of British industry South and to the London area has been going on for decades. The“UK” government is in name only. Even keeping Scotland out of the equation, they have no interest in the North of England. They want to move everything to the South where they are fast running out of land, infrastructure and housing. Within a few decades you will be sitting on a slab of concrete from Kent to Devon.
Never mind, when the polar icecaps melt and the South becomes part of the sea, you can come up here and sit on one of our hills.
We wouldn't see you swimming looking for dry land !
I think I have come off topic here but there is a regular tendency every few weeks to have a go at us north of the border.
If England wants rid of Scotland, after they have taken the advantage of the oil revenues, so be it. We will survive as we have through the centuries when you continually harassed and made our life difficult before the Union.
35 Steve-32-uk (#) Dec 11th, 2012 - 08:51 am Report abuse
36 Huntsman Extraordinaire (#) Dec 11th, 2012 - 10:00 am Report abuse

Perhaps I did not explain myself well enough I was using South Korea as an example of a country that has good standards and has managed to find a way to work around the problem of its high standards and labour costs.
37 briton (#) Dec 11th, 2012 - 11:20 am Report abuse
Rumours rumours.

Some say, Scotland is going nowhere,
The government is still on course to send all submarines and royal navy personnel to Scotland by 2017, some say, if the government was worried it would not send them north, if they thought it was a waste of time,
[Perhaps they know something we don’t.]

Devon port navy shipyard is reputed to be the biggest in Western Europe,[Plymouth]
And in fact, it has the facilities to accommodate 10 subs, rather more than falsane.

Rumour has it that some future ships could go to Portland, as it has a deep water port,
[We never know this] [Did you]

The type 26 may be brought forward, but only if the government was desperate ,
And was forced to do it, ?

If Portsmouth was closed, where would ships be built, [Scotland] but if independence was taken,
Korea perhaps, [does the government know more than we do….

When we are given the referendum we were promised, we would then have enough money to fund the British military [properly]

But in the mean time,
The EU is giving thousands of pounds to change the bulbs in traffic lights in Mauritius to low energy ones, to help with climate change, but at the same time give em millions on a new airport,
Which will only increase the problem.
1, mauritius is not part of the EU. But still does not stop these fools from spending our money.
2, the sooner we get of this gravy train the better.
Rumours rumours, do you believe them ????

38 Clyde15 (#) Dec 11th, 2012 - 12:50 pm Report abuse
As you say---rumours.
The two sources of information we have are :-
1) Politicians. Definition of --- ”people who lie as a profession.

2) The Press. Definition of ----”an organisation who lie as a profession.
39 Condorito (#) Dec 11th, 2012 - 01:11 pm Report abuse
36 Huntsman: I agree then. Thanks for clarifying.

37 briton: The UK builds lots of its military equipment in collaboration with US/EU partners. Do you really think that if the UK broke up, England and Scotland would cease collaborating on military projects? I don’t think so.

38 Clyde: quite right
40 briton (#) Dec 11th, 2012 - 01:29 pm Report abuse
First of it is a rumour,

Did eye say England and Scotland would cease to talk to each other.
No i did not,
Did i suggest it,
No i did not
Why not just read it.
As it says.
As for political lies and press lies,
Well that’s nothing new then is it.
41 Huntsman Extraordinaire (#) Dec 11th, 2012 - 03:59 pm Report abuse

Gangnam Style!

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