Criminal. Bloody criminal.
High politics ends Navy shipbuilding in Portsmouth
What would Nelson have made of it? Before Trafalgar he signalled “England Expects.” But it is the argument over Scotland’s independence that has left ship-building holed below the waterline in the Royal Navy’s headquarter port.
Most people who’ve lobbied hard for Portsmouth now believe the writing is on the wall.
I am told that the announcement has been brought forward to this morning due to leaks in the media.
Everyone expects it to be curtains for shipbuilding. Some wonder whether BAE may also lose some of the maintenance contract for the surface fleet, perhaps to Babcock.
It has become clear that while BAE is keen to work on low-risk ventures like the Type 26 it sees ship services, not ship building, as its future and so it is natural for them to rationalise facilities.
The only good news could be an impending city deal worth at least £100m to help widen the marine industry in Portsmouth, with Rolls Royce Marine, Qinetiq maybe involved. Perhaps private refit work could provide some income at Basin 3.
There have been radical ideas in the past. The Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt, is Phillip Hammond’s PPS, a navy reservist and named after a warship, HMS Penelope!
Her ideas outlined in a letter to the Prime Minister included putting Royal Navy crews on commission, “sell what you sail and get a bonus”.
Considerations of the vote on Scottish independence seem to have trumped the hi-tech yard run by BAE in Portsmouth. The move of Vosper Thornycroft from Southampton to Portsmouth meant the kit was amongst the best in the world. But the Clyde carries more weight at the moment.
Nevertheless, the Royal Navy could still do well from new deals with Babcock. Perhaps the two ocean patrol vessels as well as 13 Type 26s – perhaps a permanent replacement for HMS protector or HMS Ocean’s successor.
Even Nelson could not have turned a blind eye to Alex Salmond. But there could still be plenty for Pompey to be proud of.