BAE contract win will create 1,300 Clyde shipbuilding jobs

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The Independent Online

A further 1,300 shipbuilding jobs will be created on the Clyde by BAE Systems as production ramps up on two huge orders for the Ministry of Defence.

The company, which threatened only a few years ago to pull out of warship building altogether, hopes to double the industrial workforce at its Govan and Scotstoun yards in Glasgow to cope with construction of six new Type 45 destroyers and two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy. This would take total employment at the yards from 2,500 now to 3,800 in four to five years' time.

The two programmes have a combined value of £6 billion. BAE is also bidding for fresh export orders from the Middle East following its success in winning a £750 million order from Brunei for offshore patrol vessels.

Vic Emery, the managing director of BAE's naval ships division, said the Clyde yards would additionally take on 100 apprentices this year and look at the option of sharing manpower with Babcock's Rosyth yard in Scotland, where final assembly of the new aircraft carriers will take place.

The MoD controversially chose BAe as the prime contractor on the carrier programme but decided that the ships, the biggest ever built for the Royal Navy, should be based on a design by the French defence contractor Thales. However, Mr Emery said the final appearance of the ships, which will be armed with the US Joint Striker Fighter aircraft, could end up bearing little resemblance to Thales' original design.

The programme was officially costed at £2.9 billion but the MoD has been told it might cost as much as £4 billion if the ships are built to their full 65,000-tonne design weight. Intensive work is now going on between the carrier design team based at Filton, Bristol, and the Defence Procurements Agency to produce a compromise between cost and capability.

The construction of the two carriers will be split between BAE's Clyde yards, the VT Group in Portsmouth and Swan Hunter on Tyneside.

BAE meanwhile confirmed that the first Type 45 will not be delivered until September 2008 - a year later than the MoD's last published in-service date. But it said this was not because of any delays on the company's part.