The trio of 216m Royal Fleet Auxilliary ships will be assembled at Harland and Wolff's Belfast site, with 'the majority' of other parts built at sites in Devon and Scotland.

Ministers accused of ‘a betrayal of British jobs and British business’ as £1.6bn contract for Royal Navy support ships confirms some construction work will be carried out in SPAIN

  • Consortium including Spain’s Navantia will build three Fleet Solid Support ships
  • The trio of 216m Royal Fleet Auxilliary ships will be assembled in Belfast
  • The ‘ majority’ of other parts built at dockyard sites in Devon and Scotland
  • But build work will also take place at Navantia’s shipyard in Cadiz

Ministers were accused of bretraying British workers today as a £1.6billion contract for Royal Navy support ships was handed to a consortium that will carry out work in a Spanish dockyard.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today announced that the Team Resolute consortium including Navantia, the Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company, was the preferred bidder to construct three Fleet Solid Support (FSS) vessels. 

The trio of 216m Royal Fleet Auxilliary ships will be assembled at Harland and Wolff’s Belfast site, with ‘the majority’ of other parts built at sites in Devon and Scotland.

But build work will also take place at Navantia’s shipyard in Cadiz in Southern Spain, under a move that Mr Wallace said would ‘bolster technology transfer and key skills from a world-renowned shipbuilder, crucial in the modernisation of British shipyards.’

The Ministry of Defence said the contract would create 1,200 new jobs in UK shipyards and hundreds more in the supply chain.

But Mr Wallace’s Labour counterpart John Healey said: ‘This decision is a betrayal of British jobs and British business.

‘Ministers have rejected a big opportunity to boost our UK economy and strengthen our sovereign industrial capability at a time when threats are increasing.

The trio of 216m Royal Fleet Auxilliary ships will be assembled at Harland and Wolff's Belfast site, with 'the majority' of other parts built at sites in Devon and Scotland.

The trio of 216m Royal Fleet Auxilliary ships will be assembled at Harland and Wolff’s Belfast site, with ‘the majority’ of other parts built at sites in Devon and Scotland.

The Ministry of Defence said the contract would create 1,200 new jobs in UK shipyards and hundreds more in the supply chain.

The Ministry of Defence said the contract would create 1,200 new jobs in UK shipyards and hundreds more in the supply chain.

Ben Wallace

John Healey

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today announced that the Team Resolute consortium including Navantia, the Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company, was the preferred bidder to construct three Fleet Solid Support (FSS) vessels. But Mr Wallace’s Labour counterpart John Healey said: ‘This decision is a betrayal of British jobs and British business.’

‘Labour would build these ships in Britain. In government, we will make it fundamental that British defence investment is directed first to British business, with a higher bar set for any decision to buy abroad. We will buy, make and sell more in Britain.’

The contract will see the vessels built to an entirely British design by Bath-based BMT which forms the rest of the Team Resolute consortium along with Navantia UK and H&W.

The MoD has previously said that it is required by law to put the contract out to international tender.  There were believed to have been five bidders.

The building of the previous round of four support ships was heavily criticised when the contract went to a South Korean shipyard in 2012. 

Critics said at the time the decision was a blow to Britain’s declining shipbuilding industry and to the proud naval tradition of what was once the world’s greatest seafaring nation.

They also accused the Government of ‘shameless hypocrisy’ because then PM David Cameron had earlier criticised India for snubbing British industry when it awarded a £13billion deal to supply 126 fighter jets to France.

John Wood, the group CEO of Harland & Wolff, said today: ‘Team Resolute will be making a significant investment into the UK and help to level up UK Government defence spend across the whole Union. 

‘We will create high quality UK jobs, apprenticeships and four facilities across the UK which will have shipbuilding capabilities fit for the 21st century.’

But the GMB union, which campaigned for a fully domestic building programme, said it wanted assurances about how much work would be done in the UK.

Matt Roberts, the union’s national officer, said: ‘Following today’s announcement, the Defence Secretary must reassure GMB members and the public that all UK shipyards will get the work they need to thrive – no UK region or nation left behind.

‘Ministers finally concede a ”significant” amount of the FSS work will be done at home.

‘The problem is that they don’t define ”significant” by volume or value and they don’t tell us what guarantees or enforceability there is. Due diligence must be rigorous.

‘The next stage of our campaign will be to ensure that all promises made by the winning bidders are kept and the Government invests in – and protects – all of our shipyards for our future sovereign defence capability.’

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