Falklands 'peril' from BAE closure

Shutting its shipyard in Portsmouth will hit the security of the islands, say MPs and trade union

An unlikely coalition of right-wing MPs and union leaders have warned this weekend that the security of the Falkland Islands would be compromised by shutting BAE Systems' shipbuilding operations in Portsmouth.

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 programme 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 Argentinian 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 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's 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 per cent 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, is 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's merger with Airbus-owner EADS was blocked by the German government.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea