Union GMB’s campaign to save Appledore was backed in the House of Lords as a possible buyer emerged for the shipyard.

The yard has built almost 200 ships since the Spanish Armada and is absolutely crucial to the South West economy and British shipbuilding, say GMB.

Labour peer Lord Berkeley praised GMB’s campaign as he revealed a potential route to save the yard.

Lord Berkeley, Labour peer, said:

 “I met one operator this week called Oil, Gas and Marine Ltd who are very interested in taking over the yard…I know they’re in discussions with Babcock and the owner about the assets and the staff. They claim to be able to finance the start-up providing that they receive orders

So my lords – there’s hope there.”

As things stand, 200 people are set to lose their jobs when the yard closes in March 2019.

GMB and sister union Unite staged a mass rally to save the shipyard and handed in a nearly 10,000 petition to the Ministry of Defence and Babcock just this week calling on them to save this shipyard which is vital to both the local community and UK shipbuilding.

Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer and Chair or CSEU Maritime, said:

“If this is a real opportunity to keep our famous shipyard open then we should grab it with both hands. We need all stakeholders to go the extra miles to make it happen .

“This famous old yard has built almost 200 ships since the Spanish Armada and is absolutely crucial to the South West economy and UK shipbuilding. We cannot allow it close.”


  1. 200 jobs doesn’t make any enterprise “absolutely critical”.

    Begging for government handouts to keep an unprofitable business going is not a long term winning proposition.

    • Depends where you live
      28o lost yesterday in a Newton Abbot tile manufacturers and only last week 600 hundred lost thier job at a bakery in Launceston Cornwall
      None becouse of the so called dreaded brexit
      But yesterday it was all over the papers that Barcleys was transferring about £800billion to Dublin becouse of brexit but no jobs will be lost in London
      So that just goes to prove really how its all about big business and not about people as they dont care as there was no mention at all about those losses but banks yes

    • Ron, You do know that Appledore was the last English Ship Building Yard to actually Build Full Warships don’t you ??????

      Personally I’m Appalled.

      Where will any future Ships be built apart from Scotland ????

      Where will they be built if the SNP get their way ??????

      Can you see the Steam rising from my Piss that is Boiling ????

      • i somewhat agree…. if there was no issue of possible Scottish independence down the road, it wouldn’t bother me, but if we divest all our capability after spending all our money on Scottish facilities and they become independent, well be f*cked!

        • although i do somehow wonder how none of our yards can compete without government contracts…. if not then is any wonder why they all fail?

      • last time I checked both Barrow and Cammel laird were in England and both can and do build complete ships, but don’t let that get in the way of a good English nationalist rant, England being that bit of the island south of Waterford obviously 🙄

        • Martin, That’s true also but, If you actually read what I Wrote, before rolling your eyes, You see that Appledore was indeed, the last Yard to actually build a whole Warship. Quite which part of that you totally chose to Ignore before posting your Reply, I don’t know.

    • the capacity exists in portsmouth and devonport to build ships yet instead of maximising this we put our BEA blinkers on and give the contracts to the slowest shipbuilders on the clyde 4 years to produce an opv? how long will a t26 take?

  2. Well Bugger me Backwards, At last a HOL decision that makes absolute Sense. Appledore and the whole Taw/ Torridge Ship building History has been Pivotal in this Country’s ability to send Ships of all descriptions around the World for all types of Missions. To Ignore all that and let It Fade Into History would be a Travesty, Just like all the really Important Major Ship building Sites such as Portsmouth, Devonport, Chatham, Liverpool and Newcastle.

    This Country was Built on Manufacturing, Innovation and sheer blood and Guts. We should all embrace that rather than the Money Making and greed obsessed arse wipes that make their fortunes off the backs of others. knock Appledore for being a Backwater in a Far off West Country County but They’ve contributed far more to this Country than any Finance Corporation on the 30th floor of some Ivory Tower in Canary Wharf.
    I for one hope Appledore remains a Significant Ship Producing Area/Site.

  3. Build some new border force cutters, OPVs or MCM vessels there in the short term. It’s clear that we need more patrol vessels, and we should be looking at the future of MCM. BMT have already put forward a design (thanks Julian for reminding me!) for an MCM vessel, select it and darn well build it. And personally, I don’t fully agree with combining MCM with T31. I still push the need for dedicated vessels, not vessels which are good at everything but expert at nothing.

    I’d also champion building new border force vessels -or at least exploring the principle of doing so. Our current batch were built overseas, which in my mind, shouldn’t be allowed.

    Appledore should become the centre of small vessel construction for the RN, considering Scottish yards are busy with T26.

    • In many ways I agree with your comments but possibly instead of more OPVs it could be fast missile attack boats, I know its not feasible or they are easy to destroy, but properly equipped are they?
      Apart from that MCMs are a specialised group and tasking, I know I served on HMS Helmsdale. I do think that Appledore could take over from the old VT in the area of smaller patrol or attack craft.


      • Andy, I agree. The Archers are designed for 45 knots but due to smaller engines (cost cuts) can do only 25knots. Also there must be enough 20mm guns flying around to fit them as they were designed for. They could act then as an interim coastal patrol vessel.

  4. This Government and their shortsightedness, lack of ambition and severe disregard for everyday people and their quality of life just boils my piss. Appledore = all small vessels sub 2000 tonnes, build the fricking frigate/destroyer factory on the Clyde, Rosyeth for all ships over 20,000 tonnes. Give them all long term agreements to build in their particular classes to gain economies of scale, secure highly trained workforce, regular investment and stable local supply companies. Then we have a great industrial platform to go into other sectors of ship building. I ask, which billionaire is back handing the government to stop them doing this totally sensible thing and why!!??!! I know we’ve been through this over and over but I feel so angry that this country is constantly held back.

  5. It’s the problem with UK shipbuilding, every time a shipyard is going to close its the navy/government’s fault. These shipyards have been using similar tactics for over 100 years but at some point we have to say there is insufficient naval vessels or need for so many yards. The shipbuilding Budget is needed for useful vessells such as billion pound frigates and SSN’s. There is no strategic value in keeping a yard open to work on minor war vessels if it jeopardise the more important yards like the cathedral Clyde, Barrow and hopefully Cammel laird with the type 31.

    • Yes Yes and Yes But, That’s all well and good until the Next round of Cuts and the next after that. At the rate we have seen said cuts over the past 70 odd years, we will have exactly Bugger all Ships or anything else left in 30 years time. I’m comfortable blaming the Government, personally.

  6. Reality Check!
    Babcock is closing it because it generated 24 mil last year for the company.
    That’s not a profit that’s just the money it turned over. taking into account wages, materials and operating cost the profit would have been small, if it made a profit at all.

    Look at the picture…It can tell you a lot about the issues the yard has.
    The road infrastructure to the yard is not great.
    No alongside piers for fitting out.
    No dockside cranes for fitting out
    The Irish OPVs where sat on their keel in the mud during fit out! Thats not great for the hull, stabs, props or rudders.
    Look here to see what i mean. https://twitter.com/NavyLookout/status/1001195226189434881
    The dock float out area needs dredging to preserve access.

    So all in all its just not cost effective to keep the yard open, even if it got new work. Yes its sad but commercial reality has to rule the heart.

  7. Yes, It Bothered the Irish so much they still went back for more. The History of Appledore Ship Building and indeed, Ships sailing from the Taw and Torridge over the Treacherous Sand Bar goes back Centuries, Spanish Armada being one notable period. Both the Taw and Torridge have suffered from becoming Silted up but, North Devon Skills and Knowledge have overcome this to produce some Cracking Ships over the Years, and they don’t use Glue either !!!!

    • The Irish Navy went back because Babcock basically gave the hulls away just to keep the yard active, the extra fourth hull was basically the same price as the 3 contracted ones even though it was ordered in 2016.

      As for the state of the Yard it caused plenty of issues, at least one of the hulls (JJ) had shaft issues that delayed her delivery by months due to sitting on the seabed, the harsh winter storms didn’t help much either. The Hall has height issues where even for the “small” Irish P60’s the mast had to be added afterwards.

      It’s given us good ships (though the 50’s are fuel hogs), but I doubt it was even in the running for the next buy.

      • Sounds just like keeping the Clyde busy with River Batch 2’s then.
        One of which is still not Ready due to Build Issues.
        Harsh Winter Storms Happen.
        Sitting on the Sea Bed Is a tad far fetched, I saw her sitting along side still in the Estuary. Gentilly resting in the nice soft Silt.
        QE Class have Folding Masts to get under the Bridges.

        On your last point, Yes, I agree, Appledore has given us some good Ships. The list is long and Long may they continue to do so.

  8. Even in the RN’s reduced state, we have a need for 30+ minor warships, including the MCMVs and PBs. The Border Force has a need for more cutters. The privatised ex-RNXS has 50 or so harbour vessels, tugs, etc. The Inshore Fisheries mob have close to 30 ships, from RIBs up to patrol boats. There is an obvious need for a specialised UK smaller ships yard to meet the need. If that yard was fully equipped with the latest in tools and technology, it would be able to compete overseas on price and quality.

    In any other western country with a sizeable naval capability, such as Netherlands, Japan, France, Spain, Australia, Italy, etc, you just know that the Government would put a clear strategic plan in place, invest money in it and hey presto, be manufacturing competitive minor warships at a state-of-the-art yard in no time at all.

    Appledore would need a good few bob spent on it to fit the bill, but if the Government can give the carmakers millions to stay in the UK, hand out £1bn to buy DUP support and spend billions planning for a no-deal that isn’t going to happen, why not invest in something that (a) the nation needs and (b) could produce good financial returns one day?

    The problem is political theory, all Conservative Governments are ideologically committed to cutting public expenditure to the lowest possible level and then some, as per defence, police, social care, prisons and the rest since 2010. They are also doctrinally wedded to business and industry funding everything without government help.

    A different, less doctrinaire government in a different country, would put together a plan to develop a yard like Appledore or similar, share the investment with a major industrial player and pencil in some future launch orders to get the thing underway. The reverse happens in the UK, we see defence manufacturers go out of business or get taken over by foreign companies, while the supine Government looks on and does nothing of any practical use to protect our manufacturing base, skilled jobs, future exports or long-term prosperity.

    Alas, we get what some of us voted for.


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