Ian King, chief executive of BAE, has indicated in a letter submitted to the Scottish Affairs Committee that shipyards on the Clyde would likely have to close if Scotland votes for independence.
The future of the yards at Govan and Scotstoun is directly tied into the Type 26 frigates and Mr King has said BAE would build the ships at a location compatible with the contract awarding process of the Ministry of Defence.
The indication comes from a letter submitted to the chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee Ian Davidson, Mr King stated “the major investment decision known as Main Gate, will be made by MoD at the end of this year” after the referendum on 18 September.
Mr King also said that “in the event of a Yes vote, and as we have made clear, we would be required to discuss the future of the Type 26 programme with our customer, the MoD. It would be for the MoD to determine how the vote affects the final decisions they have yet to make on the programme, including the future location of the build of the ships.
We would take our customer’s lead in these circumstances. We cannot determine this outcome in advance, or without the direction of the MoD.”
The MoD has a 15-year Terms of Business Agreement with BAE Systems MNS, giving the company certainty about the UK Government’s commitment to a minimum level of capacity in the areas of warship design and build work, including the Type 26 as mentioned above, and elements of support covering complex warships.
The MoD has a similar 15-year agreement with Babcock Marine in respect of support work for surface warships and submarines.
However, the claim was dismissed by a spokesman for SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who insisted the new ships would be built in an independent Scotland while pointing out that under current plans one of the Clyde’s two yards – Govan – may close anyway.