Carriers announcement delayed,
Navy faces cuts says paper
Elections delay announcement but once it comes, RN has tough times
The broadsheet The Herald, published in Glasgow, reports today that a
long awaited announcement on the construction of the UK's new aircraft
carriers will be delayed primarily because of the Scottish elections.
Shipyard workers up and down Britain, but especially the Scottish
yards, have been awaiting news on the contracts as it will mean a huge
boost to the fortunes of shipbuilders as the biggest ever navy ships
are built in the UK.
However a belief that an announcement would be imminent a couple of
weeks ago has now turned to one will be made after the elections are
held in Scotland in May. The Herald said this was decided upon to
prevent accusations that the Government was seeking to sway voters
minds if they made an earlier announcement.
'Hard bargaining' at shipyards was also a factor in the delay, said
The construction of the giant vessels will ensure work for thousands
of shipyard workers around the UK with sections being built on the
Clyde, at Barrow, Portsmouth and final assembly in Rosyth in Scotland.
On top of this it has been made clear that all shipyards in the UK
should benefit in some way or other, contributing to the construction
When the announcement comes though it will be time for the Royal Navy
to face up to more cuts in its fleet to make up some £250m
overrun in fuel, maintenance and other costs says the paper. Quoting
an un-named source this could mean, it claims, mothballing of two Type
42 destroyers and four Type 22 frigates.
Critics of the Governments navy policies have been vocal in pointing
out that much of the RN's capability is in fact incapable at present,
with ships laid up or 'in reserve' meaning that should a conflict
arise they would not be commissioned for months. The Herald's source
added to this by saying the carrier INVINCIBLE would only be in a
ready state after 18 months of preparations and that five other
vessels would take half a year to be made seaworthy.
Government spokespersons have however pointed out that the new wave of
shipbuilding for the navy will result in a smaller but much more
effective fleet to cover operations expected of them in the future.
Currently the Clyde and Portsmouth enjoy a boom with construction of
the Type 45 destroyers.
Last week the Prime Minister Tony Blair and Scotland's First Minister
toured the Govan shipyard on the Clyde. Sheet metal worker Sheryl
Dobie, who has recently completed her modern apprenticeship, and
fourth year technical apprentice Ross Frew conducted the tour.
After meeting a group of 60 graduates and apprentices Mr Blair said,
“This industry is immensely important for Scotland, immensely
important for skills that once lost are hard to recapture, and
immensely important for the national defence industry. He praised the
Clyde workforce and said the Type 45s were 'absolutely vital' to the
future of the Royal Navy.
And in Barrow this week, on Thursday Lee Foster, project manager at
BAE Systems shipyard there, will outline what the construction of the
new carriers will mean for Barrow. The meeting will take place at
Chetwynde school at 7.30pm