Union calls for clarity over future of new aircraft carriers

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth II at Rosyth. Picture: Getty Images
The Royal Navy aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth II at Rosyth. Picture: Getty Images
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A leading trade union is demanding clarity over the future of the two aircraft carriers being built at Rosyth following suggestions one could be mothballed to meet budget shortfalls.

The GMB has written to Scottish Secretary David Mundell In response to reports that the Royal Navy is having to save £500 million over the next two months.

Yesterday it was reported that serving and retired senior military officers were concerned by the pressure to reduce costs. The savings come after the Navy signed a £600m contract for five offshore patrol vessels, which critics say are not required.

The savings could be met by cutting the size of the Royal Marines, mothballing one of the Roysth aircraft carriers or asking the army to pay for “soldier-like” jobs carried out by marines, such as guarding bases.

As part of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, Rosyth and other yards across the rest of the UK are currently manufacturing the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Class carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, with commitments to maintain the vessels throughout their lifetime.

GMB Scotland organiser Gary Cook said: “The mere suggestion that one of the aircraft carriers could be mothballed by the MoD will set alarm bells ringing among our members and particularly in Rosyth.

“A large chunk of the future prosperity of these yards are invested in the maintenance and routine refitting work associated with Royal Navy vessels and potentially cutting this work by 50 per cent would have serious consequences for jobs.

“It’s deeply worrying that the MoD is flirting with proposals that could harm our shipbuilding communities.

“Such short-sightedness would be bad news for Rosyth, bad news for Scotland and bad news for the future of UK shipbuilding and we are calling on the UK government to provide urgent clarification on these reports.”

A MoD spokesman said: “We are fully committed to operating both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales and to naval shipbuilding on the Clyde.

“The Defence Secretary confirmed last year that steel will be cut on the first anti-submarine Type 26 Frigate next summer, providing warship building work on the Clyde until 2035. Britain has the largest defence budget in Europe and it is growing as we invest £178 billion in new ships, submarines and aircraft over the next decade.”