Scots jobs face axe as MoD looks to scale back naval shipbuilding
TWO Royal Navy shipyards on the Clyde are facing the axe under secret plans to make huge savings from the bill for two new aircraft carriers, it was claimed last night.
The yards at Scotstoun and Govan are said to be earmarked for possible closure by the Ministry of Defence, putting up to 4,000 jobs at risk.
The claims have emerged in a leaked memo the day after it was revealed that the navy's new aircraft carriers are running 1 billion over budget.
Work on the two warships – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales – had been delayed in December but was due to begin next week.
The contracts for the 65,000-tonne vessels – the biggest and most powerful warships the UK has ever built – are due to be completed by 2014.
But a leaked memo from Alan Johnston, the chief executive of BVT, which owns Govan and Scotstoun, plus a third shipyard at Portsmouth, is said to forecast savings of up to half a billion pounds by closing two of them.
The memo reportedly states that the MoD is prepared to pay for thousands of redundancies to scale down Britain's capacity for building warships.
The move is understood to have been agreed in principle with the MoD as part of an exclusive BVT deal with Whitehall to build the Royal Navy's future ships. Mr Johnston is said to have written: "BVT has committed to review its industrial footprint in light of the projected reduction in UK shipbuilding requirements post completion of the CVF (aircraft carrier) programme (current projections show that at the time the MoD requirements could be delivered from a single BVT facility) and MoD has committed to underwrite the necessary closure costs.
"These one-off rationalisation/ investment costs are estimated to be between 115m to 165m for redundancies, site closure, environmental clean-up, equipment disposal and asset write-downs."
Last night, a spokesman for BVT said he could "not deny" that a memo existed. However, he said the company was not expecting to close any facilities in the "foreseeable" future.
The spokesman added: "We have a solid order book for the next seven to eight years and are in the strongest position that the shipbuilding industry in the UK has seen for a generation."
A spokesman for the MoD said it had to look at the consequences of reduced demand for navy shipbuilding. He added: "There will be a need for rationalisation and efficiency measures going forward."
The Scottish Government last night warned the revelations would cause "deep concern" among the workforce and communities on the Clyde. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "I have recently spoken with Alan Johnston, who had assured me the company was working to secure the long-term future of the yards.
"I will be contacting BVT to demand assurances over their commitment to the Clyde yards and the long-term future of Scotland's shipbuilding expertise."
Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott said: "Labour must immediately end the uncertainty surrounding the future of naval shipyards on the Clyde. They can not leave hard-working men and woman high and dry."
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