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Bishops’ plea to keep shipyard open: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2012 p 7. February 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Bishop Christopher Foster

The Bishops of Portsmouth have urged BAE Systems not to shutter their shipyard at the city’s naval dockyard and end 800 years of shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

In a joint statement released on 24 January 2012, the Anglican bishop, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Foster, and the Roman Catholic bishop, the Rt. Rev. Crispian Hollis, stated they were “concerned about the reports that suggest BAE Systems may be reviewing their presence in Portsmouth Dockyard. If BAE Systems were to pull out, the viability of the whole dockyard could be at stake.”

“The Dockyard has been at the heart of Portsmouth for centuries, and it would be a real blow to the city if this review threatened its future. It’s not just the 3,000 people who work there and their families who would be affected, but also those other local businesses who depend on the dockyard for their survival. At a time when so many are already facing economic stress, this is the last thing they needed to hear,” the bishops said.

Union and government leaders joined the bishops in calling for BAE Systems to keep the dockyard open.  However, a spokesman for the company said it was reviewing how to “retain the capability to deliver and support complex warships in the UK in the future” and would keep its employees and their union representatives “fully informed” of the progress.

The hull and stern of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth were built at the yard, while the flight deck was constructed in Birkenhead.  Work is currently being completed at the Rosyth dockyard.  Construction of a second 65,000 tonne carrier, the HMS Prince of Wales, is scheduled to begin shortly and will keep the yard open until 2016.

The company is in negotiations with the MoD over the a contract to construct a new fleet of Type 25 frigates, which would keep the dockyard busy for a decade and has prompted speculation from some union leaders the redundancy rumors are part of the company’s negotiating strategy with the government.