Competition wording means UK shipyards may not get a large majority of Fleet Solid Support Ship work

21 May 2021

The government has today announced the terms of its competition to build three Fleet Solid Support Ships.

Sunset view cross Rosyth naval dockyards, Scotland

Prospect has been calling for these ships to be predominantly built in the UK but the wording of the competition means that so long as the lead company is UK registered it will be able to bid. This means a large proportion of the work, particularly design and fabrication, could be done overseas, with the ship just being bolted together at the end by a UK shipyard. It is Prospect’s view that anything less than a large bulk of the work being carried out in the UK would be a betrayal of our shipyards and defence workers.

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect, responded:

“It is hugely disappointing that the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has failed to put the interests of British shipbuilding at the heart of the competition to build the Fleet Solid Support Ships.

“The wording of the competition clearly leaves the door open for the all of the design and the bulk of fabrication work to be done overseas, leaving British yards to simply bolt together ships which have effectively been built in Cadiz or Genoa. Critically such a decision an outcome would strip away the UK’s ability to gain from export orders for these vessels

“If most of the work ends up being outside of the UK, and most of the jobs go to workers in foreign shipyards, then it will be a betrayal of defence workers in the UK who are desperate for this work. If this happens, nobody will be fooled by this – ‘UK registered’ is not the same as UK jobs.

“Claiming that such a process is reaffirming the Governments “dedication to invest in shipbuilding and support jobs across the UK maritime industry”  simply shows that the government doesn’t understand the economic importance of end-to-end shipbuilding, from design to maintaining the completed vessels.

“We’ve had years of the government talking up its commitment to British industry – this was a clear test of that commitment and one it risks failing.”


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