GMB has advised that keeping a crucial £1 billion order for new military support ships in the UK could support up to 16,000 jobs.

The analysis of government shipbuilding spending and prosperity, which was obtained by GMB under the Freedom of Information Act, suggests that £1 billion spent on the Fleet Solid Support order could support between 11,600 and 16,400 jobs.

These figures are higher than the union’s ‘cautious’ estimate of 6,700 jobs, which was calculated on a different basis.

Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer and CSEU chair, said:

“The thousands of UK jobs at stake – not to mention the wider benefit to the economy – make this decision a no brainer for the new Defence Secretary, and we cautiously welcome reports that she is willing to look at this issue again.”

Meanwhile just days ago the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shipbuilding and Ship Repair urged the government to keep the order in the UK.

The new Fleet Solid Support ships are needed to service the UK’s £6.3 billion Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and their strikeforce of new F-35 fighter planes.

Despite the fact the ships are exempt from EU procurement rules – and the French Government recently awarded a similar order to French shipyards without a bidding process – the Ministry of Defence has up until now insisted on running a full international competition.

However, the new Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, is reportedly considering a change in approach.

Shipbuilding and ship repair employment in Great Britain has fallen from an estimated 122,200 in 1981 to under 32,000 in 2016 – threatening the UK’s sovereign defence manufacturing capability.

Ross Murdoch added:

“The thousands of UK jobs at stake – not to mention the wider benefit to the economy – make this decision a no brainer for the new Defence Secretary, and we cautiously welcome reports that she is willing to look at this issue again. We have a highly skilled shipbuilding workforce in the UK that is more than capable of making these ships at a fair market price.

We can’t let our proud shipbuilding tradition be sold down the river if the work goes to artificially subsidised international competitor shipyards instead. In a year which has seen Appledore close and hundreds of jobs shed at Rosyth Cammell Laird, this is an easy way to keep Britain’s shipbuilding industry afloat.”

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Nick C
Nick C (@guest_464973)
1 year ago

In the pictures of the proposed ships there are two completely different pictures, one with bridge forward and one bridge aft. Are these just speculations as to what the potential contractors are proposing or is there a fixed design? Any answer gratefully received!

Martin (@guest_464986)
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick C

The bridge forward design was how FSS was originally envisaged. The design had a large hanger and well deck with steel beach, the new image is of the post 2010 design which is massively scaled down much more simplistic design which will be little more than a freighter.

farouk (@guest_464993)
1 year ago

At school I did ‘A’ Level economics and from that I picked up a habit of buying the Economist. During the 80s I read an article in said magazine about how the British government had supplied Portugal with complete shoe factories in which to help their economy (before they joined the EU in 1986) Once Lisbon got going they completely undercut the British shoe industry resulting in just another chapter in the familiar story of yet another British industry going to the dogs. (The irony here is I used to wear Clark’s desert boots. Clark’s moved it manufacturing base to… Read more »

Expat (@guest_465044)
1 year ago
Reply to  farouk

I also buy UK made things as much as possible. I would bet these GMB big wigs don’t. We import 50billion of vehicles every year if we reduced that by 2% and bought British that’s the equivalent boast to the economy of the FSSS contract every year.

Martin (@guest_465051)
1 year ago
Reply to  farouk

The issue is that unemployment in the UK is at 3%, the economy is at capacity. If you want us to start making something like shoes then we have to give up making something else like jet engines or financial derivatives. There is a strategic argument for maintaining warship construction in the UK but little else.

Mike (@guest_465135)
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin

Except a lot of the economy is based on low paid, low value added service jobs, so the economy is not working at its best. The so called productivity puzzle! Manufacturing is more productive. If we made and bought more of our own stuff the economy would work better for all of us, would be better balanced and more sustainable. By the way there are many shoe makers in the UK to choose from. Mostly at the top end, but Hotters are equivalent to Clarke’s, and make over 2 million pairs a year. I would argue that for a maritime… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_465156)
1 year ago

Lets see what Penny Mourdant has to offer, is she all talk or will she be a minister of defence that takes her job seriously and does the right thing, time the unelected buffoons and fat cats in office at the treasury were told to stand aside, the money is there, lets invest in our own defences and UK built.
I do not like Trump but he is right
UK first, UK first, UK first.