Shipyards crisis comes as wake-up call
It’s a sad day when the only orders placed in the UK now for larger ships are from the Ministry of Defence, and a handful at that.
Exactly how shipping companies came to bypass UK shipyards and instead place orders with Korea, Japan, China, France, Italy, Finland and Germany over the past few decades is open to debate. Was it simply down to cost, or also because of factors such as failure to modernise soon enough, failure to deliver on time and to specification, or to loss of perceived quality?
The last seems most unlikely; the successful construction of the aircraft carriers and recently frigates and destroyers proves the opposite. How was the expanding cruise ship market missed?
Could the ministry not have contracted for the naval tankers to be built here, rather than in Korea?
What is being suggested in some quarters is further diversification to ship-breaking, general servicing maritime operations globally, and renewable technology.
Not much help for the many thousands who have already lost jobs and are about to do so.
After the Grangemouth dispute demonstrated the crucial importance of one industrial installation to the Scottish economy, Tuesday’s announcement of job losses in Portsmouth and Scotland is yet another wake-up call.
BAE is unable to compete in the world shipbuilding market against other, cheaper, foreign yards. The quality of British ships is not in dispute. It is cost which beats us, time and time again.
Now, the SNP fiction about Scottish yards having plenty of business if the SNP wins the referendum can be seen to be the deceit that it is. Independence means no shipbuilding in Scotland. The truth has now come out.
Andrew HN Gray
The news that the UK no longer builds military hardware at a rate sufficient to keep the shipyards busy might be welcomed by some, but the UK losing its shipbuilding expertise is not.
The decline is also severe in the civilian sector. The newest and largest ferry to operate on the west coast of Scotland is the Finlaggan, commissioned in 2011.
It was not built on the Clyde, but in Gdansk. The notion that it was “cheaper” for the Scottish Government to buy the Finlaggan on our behalf from Poland is complete nonsense. Considerations of value for money should include broader economic and social factors, and it is high time the evaluation criteria were revised to reflect the public interest and bring back ship building to where it is needed.
The sad news of the loss of shipbuilding jobs in Scotland was tempered a little with the commitment from Westminster to keep the yards open.
This may only be a partial solution, however.
If Scotland decides to take the independence route next year then the UK government, quite rightly, will place future naval orders for the defence of the United Kingdom at UK shipyards even if it means possibly cancelling the closure of Portsmouth.
Scottish naval shipbuilding will then have to survive on the maintenance and replacement of the Scottish navy’s only flagship, Waverley, always assuming that there will be enough constant and moderate winds to provide the energy base load from windmills to power the plants successfully.
Our country and Scottish industry needs to remain a vital part of the United Kingdom.
Iain J McConnell
I am afraid your recent correspondents commenting on the naval shipbuilding crisis and the inference that there is no connection with the referendum are living in some fantasy world, far removed from reality.
Do they really believe that the Royal Navy, charged with the naval defence of what would remain of the UK, would go to a foreign country to have their warships built?
Because, make no mistake, that is exactly what Scotland will be if the separatists should win the referendum.
Every political, technical and financial matter the decision to move the contracts to England may entail would be overridden by the necessity to keep the building of these vital vessels in the country that will use them.
The simple fact is, not to do so would be a dereliction of their duty as an elected government of any political persuasion. It would never happen.
In attempting to pretend, or to gloss over these facts, your correspondents do a great disservice to the people of this country.
What is needed more than anything else is truth and honesty.
It is the duty of those companies and organisations involved in any way with UK defence to tell their workforces in Scotland the certain consequences of breaking up the UK and separating Scotland.
This is not scaremongering; it is telling the truth and that is the least they deserve. There will most certainly be a very severe economic price to pay for voting against the UK in September 2014. That is a fact.
It is not a threat, nor an attempt to scare.
Some may think the price worthwhile. I disagree but respect their honesty.
What I detest, however, is trying to get over the dishonest impression that people should not worry and that everyone else, everywhere, will do exactly as Alex and Nicola & co and their followers say they will. Some hope.
New Cut Rigg
Nicola Sturgeon, and other SNP commentators, see no reason why Scotland should not build warships for the rest of the UK! Really? Nelson may have placed a blind eye to his telescope, but at least he had a plan.
Choosing to be blind to reality does not auger well for a possibly independent Scotland. The electorate should not be treated with such contempt.
The reality of possible independence has to be clear to all, particularly those lining up to lead. Scotland should be free to succeed, not be strangled by the “half-nelson” tactics of a fairyland government.