Fife workers are “good to go” to deliver new contracts at Rosyth’s shipbuilding yards.
Fife MPs have urged the UK Government to start signing contracts and secure hundreds of jobs amid ongoing uncertainty as the HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier project draws to a conclusion.
Dunfermline and West Fife SNP MP Douglas Chapman and Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Lesley Laird have pressed the government to safeguard the workers.
They want the new UK defence secretary Penny Mordaunt to guarantee the £1 billion Fleet Solid Support Ships (FSSS) contract will be built in Britain, protecting an estimated 16,400 jobs across the UK.
The calls come after defence minister Stuart Andrew revealed Italian firm Fincantieri has pulled out of the FSSS bidding process, while a South Korean-based bid from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering has also been withdrawn.
Mr Chapman believes there is no reason the project should not be awarded to a UK-based dock like Rosyth, an area which could also secure work via the contract for Type31e frigates, which is also up for grabs and is a UK-only competition.
He said: “The Royal Navy wants to build a range of smaller frigates and they have put them out to competition between shipyards in the UK.
“Looking out from the flight deck of the Royal Navy’s biggest ever ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is in Rosyth for post sea-trial checks, the quality of engineering in the West Fife yard is there for all to see.
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“I hope (Penny Mordaunt) can succeed in getting the Type31e project off the ground as soon as possible so that the gap between finishing the second aircraft carrier and starting on Type31e frigates is as seemless as can be managed.
“Babcock tell me they’ve a really strong bid on the table and they want to invest in Rosyth in order to make the yard an engineering hub to take on all comers.”
Mrs Laird said the FSSS contract, due to be awarded next year, has been put to tender internationally because the ships are not classified as warships.
The British consortium consisting of Babcock, BAE Systems, Cammell Laird and Rolls-Royce is now one of just three bidders left, with Spanish firm Navantia and the Japan Marine United Corporation still in the running.
“Recently, we have seen the workforce at Rosyth reduce due to a lack of certainty as to whether they would be successful in their bid for the Fleet Solid Support contracts,” she said.
“This comes amidst job losses at Appledore and Cammell Laird, while Harland and Woolf has been put up for sale.
“Only last week an all-party Government committee published a report saying all of the evidence points to the fact that this government’s current position is completely unsustainable and is hurting communities the length and breadth of the UK, while also undermining our strategic and competitive advantage in the shipbuilding and marine sector.”
“Failure to [award FSSS to the UK], would not just destroy our great history of being a shipbuilding nation, but it would destroy the lives of so many families and communities who rely on that work and are proud to associate themselves as being part of this country’s shipbuilding community.”
Mr Andrew said the results for the UK-only Type31e tender are expected later this year, but remained relatively tight-lipped on entrants for the FSSS contract.
“I am pleased that a UK consortium is in there,” he commented.