THE leading status of BAE Systems’ Glasgow shipyards will be “hard to maintain” if there are insufficient contracts in the future, according to the head of a flagship multi-billion-pound naval destroyer building programme which will end this week when its final ship leaves the River Clyde.
Jennifer Osbaldestin, director of the £6 billion Type 45 programme at the defence giant, described the Scotstoun and Govan yards as a “centre of excellence” and said she hoped the sites would find further work.
The warning comes amid continuing uncertainty over whether one of BAE’s two yards in Scotland or its site in Portsmouth will close.
The 7,500-tonne HMS Duncan, the largest ship that BAE has built on the Clyde, will set off for Portsmouth on Friday.
It will be sent off before a crowd of city schoolchildren and civic dignitaries such as Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council. It is the sixth and final Type 45 to be built in the city as part of the lucrative Ministry of Defence contract.
Asked about the future of the Scottish yards, Ms Osbaldestin said: “I think that, collectively, we look at how do we deliver shipbuilding as an enduring legacy on the Clyde.
“Type 45 is part of that journey and I’m sure there will be other projects that continue the development of those skills for future warship-building here.
“We’ve got a centre of excellence for shipbuilding and naval engineering. I think it’s quite hard to be able to maintain that if we don’t have the products coming through, so it would be certainly great for the employees and BAE as a whole to ensure that we have future projects here on the Clyde.”
Ms Osbaldestin described the upcoming launch as a “very proud moment” for the company but admitted that some staff would have “a tear in their eye” at seeing the final Type 45 depart Glasgow.
“It’s an incredibly joyous moment and we will continue those celebrations on Friday and when she arrives in Portsmouth.”
BAE’s yards in Glasgow are currently working on vast carrier classes for the MoD which will dwarf even the Type 45 vessels.