Unions are calling for more work at Rosyth after the HMS Queen Elizabeth maintenance project completes.

Earlier in the month, a contract was awarded that will see aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth return to Rosyth so Babcock can carry out maintenance work on her.

Babcock said:

“We look forward to welcoming HMS Queen Elizabeth back to our facilities, where she was assembled, for her first docking and maintenance period. We continue to work closely with our MoD and Royal Navy customer on this national asset.”

Prospect negotiations officer Jane Rose said:

“We’ve seen a steady reduction in staffing numbers at Rosyth over the last year as work on the Royal Navy’s other carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, nears completion.

It’s really good news that HMS Queen Elizabeth will return home for this maintenance work but we do need to see more commitment from the MoD to British yards to ensure that skills and sovereign capability are retained.”

West Fife MP Douglas Chapman added:

“Further down the line, we await UK decisions on Type 31 frigates and fleet support ships. Rosyth is in the mix to benefit from these contracts too. Again, I urge the minister to get on with coming to a decision on these contracts which would keep these valuable skills at Rosyth for a long time to come.”

Prospect’s Richard Hardy said:

“It’s great news and one we’ve been working toward with local parliamentarians and through contacts with the Scottish Government but the bigger issue here is making sure that the Rosyth dry dock has work to keep it from closing before Queen Elizabeth’s next planned refit.

We need the UK government to review its decision on competing for the contract for the Fleet Solid Support ships (FSS) which will support and replenish the carriers at sea internationally and we need a proper commitment from the UK government to their own National Shipbuilding Strategy. But for today, let’s celebrate this bit of good news and we look forward to seeing HMS Queen Elizabeth come home later in the year.”

58 COMMENTS

  1. I’m guessing that HMS Prince of Wales will also undergo Similar Maintenance after She completes her Sea Trials and Aircraft integration. I’d love to see them build ( Assemble ) the new MARS Ships too as they have Excelled building ( Assembling ) the Amazing Carriers.

  2. Rosyth has been let down over many years by many Governments, If you look in the photo you will see the big hole in the ground that was meant to be the Trident submarine re-fit complex. That contract was awarded to Devonport Dockyard at the cost of millions to the tax payer. Rosyth deserves the work on Type 31 or Solid store support ships It is the yard that has refused to die despite the best efforts of many Politician’s over the year’s. So now is the time to pay it back for all it’s great work on the carriers and award new contacts now.

    • I agree that Rosyth deserves more work. One of the problems has always been MOD stop start contracts which has lead to higher costs and a broken shipbuilding industry.

    • Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability. It originates from a project a few years ago to rejuvenate the RFA fleet. The Tides and Solid Support Ships are a product from it.

      The original programme called for:

      Five fleet tankers for delivery between 2011 and 2016.
      A single fleet tanker (CVF/carrier strike replenisher) for delivery in 2016
      Two fleet solid-support ships for delivery in 2017 and 2019.
      Three joint sea-based logistics vessels for delivery in 2018, 2020 and 2021

      • Well that’s depressing. “The original program called for…” 6+2+3 (counting all fleet carriers as the same). What will actually be delivered, by my count and assuming HMG doesn’t exercise the option for the third FSS, is 4+2+0. Pretty much half the vessels originally envisioned. I guess we’re getting used to this by now.

        Out of interest, can anyone name a single military project in the last couple of decades that actually got up-sized and over-delivered on like-for-like planned numbers (“like-for-like as in didn’t increase number by severely down-specing the capability of the units being built/delivered)?

        • Sea King AEW conversion programme. Compketed under budget, under time, original amount of Sea Kings converted and delivered. Although a few years ago.

        • River class I guess.

          Four ships expected to be replaced by five, but with the recent announcement three of those ships will be retained – the OPV fleet will be doubled to 8. I believe the original Batch 1 ships will be crewed largely by members of the RNR.

          The capabilities of them are questionable I guess. They (the Batch 2 ships) are a massive step up from the Batch 1 rivers, with the capacity to carry more troops, greater range and speed, and the ability to handle helicopters – and refuel them. (I wouldn’t like to land a Merlin on one though!)

          However, to further enhance their capabilities, I’d like to see them fitted with an extra two 20mm’s on the bridge wings, the infrastructure to support drone and autonomous operations, and possibly a light towed array to further enhance them as a platform. Some individuals have called for the installation of a 2.9″ (76mm), but I disagree for three reasons:
          1). It would require an extensive refit,
          2). Magazine protection, whilst improved from the batch one vessels, is still low. In a combat situation, a lucky hit could provide the crew with a very real re-enactment of Jutland.
          3). I don’t think it’s wise to add yet another gun caliber into the RN. In this regard, I’d argue that the T31e should utilise 4.5″ guns taken from decommissioning T23s.

          Some might argue for CIWS or a containerised Sea Ceptor, and both are possible additions. But at the same time, I could see such additions being used by politicians to justify either sending them into harms way or cutting frigate numbers.

          (I’ve gone off topic slightly)

        • Well, there was the, uh, no they cancelled that, but then there were the 10 new subs to replace , uh, they cut that to 8, no 7, but then the 13 replacements for T23 , no that was cut to 8, um, I’ll get back to you.

  3. With our current budget and manpower shortages it isn’t going to happen, but a replacement for Ocean would be on my wish list for Rosyth. The mere thought of having to put a QE in littoral waters to conduct any kind of amphibious warfare scares the hell out of me.

  4. The Fleet Solid Support ships should not go out to international tender. They should tendered only in the UK and we should try and make use of internal competition wherever feasible to drive down costs and improve productivity. We could also enable them to get financial rewards for increased productivity (investment in new technology). The UK just doesn’t have a proper industrial strategy like everyone else. For instance does anyone know the fact that Germany, France and Korea have substantially higher GDP spend on industrial subsidies. They just hide it whereas the UK obeys EU rules with regard to Germany and France. The myth is that Germany is somehow better at industry than the UK…same with France. This is simple not true and I have worked with a number of French companies and German ones. Some of the French companies (big ones) are actually incredibly inefficient. Their success is down to successfully lobbying in the EU and also industrial subsidies and ensuring product rules are written by their own multi-nationals. The UK stupidly obeys EU rules instead of having our industrial strategy. Also we allow countries like Korea to impose tariffs and product rules that predicate against our companies competing equally. Our industrial has failed also because of poor management (actually primary reason), some elements of past poor management/employee relationship (some stupid union officials) and lack of investment coupled to the fact we are competing against countries that invest more with the rules of game stacked against us. You would be surprised how the rules of the game are being loaded in favour of our supposed European allies and Friends as well as countries like Korea and Japan. I would impose reciprocal treatment to foreign companies until they ensure our companies can compete on an equal playing field. If we don’t more of our industrial base will be gone and we will have nothing left other than banking. These countries are playing hardball usually but the British are just too polite to kick up a fuss…

  5. Very well put. I agree totally which is why I created the petition. We are in danger of losing our shipbuilding capability. 60 years ago UK shipyards built 25% of the world’s ships. Now we dont. We do however have the ability to produce highly complex ships such as the carriers and submarine fleet. We to strengthen those skills and build more ships around the UK. I ‘d like to see my local yard at Appledore stay open. Focussing perhaps on smaller ships.

    • I thought it would be appropriate to create a small fleet of say, 8 ships based on the River Class hull for MCM. Perhaps use them to host the new autonomous minesweeping technologies, drones, and submersibles that are coming online gradually.

      I’ve seen CGIs of proposed future frigates carrying autonomous minesweepers, but I can’t see any reason why a smaller dedicated vessel couldn’t.

      Design it in the UK, build it at Appledore, and let the yard become a centre for the construction of smaller vessels – small patrol vessels, tugs for Serco, and border force cutters (criminal that our cutters are built overseas).

      • I agree with that, the problem again comes back to having a national shipbuilding stategy. The politicians keep (under pressure from others) commissioning studies designed to inform a strategy (I know, I was involved in a Government funded study in the 70’s). These studies can produce useful long term frameworks which would work to the benefit of UK plc. Unfortunately, however sensible, report conclusions never survive beyond the first Treasury cost cutting cycle after their publication, so the strategy is DOA. The latest incarnation of this procedure is Sir John Parker’s report. He is arguably the best qualified person in the UK to come up with a national shipbuilding strategy, it was a high quality piece of work, but what has happened already? Frigate factory project abandoned, Appledore closing down, RFA orders open to foreign yards. As an ex shipbuilder, it makes me mad…

        • That’s why the strategy report by Sir JP also stresses the need for exports and commercial orders. I also think the proposal to build hospital ships is a great idea, I don’t see why the MoD should be the only department supporting an industry strategy.

      • I know it’s just a concept so maybe it’s no good, too expensive in practice etc but BMT do seem like a good operation so I’d like to see the option of progressing BMT’s Venari 85 design thoroughly explored as well. It’s not just about British manufacturing, supporting our local design houses is very important as well.

        BMT’s V85 paper is an interesting read both to see more details of the vessel proposed but also for the general discussion in the first half of the paper re various remote/autonomous minesweeping strategies. The paper is here…

        https://www.bmtdsl.co.uk/media/6889878/BMT-VENARI-85-Technical-Brief.pdf

          • Ah yes, the Venari 85. It looks a promising vessel. I had read about it before, but it had completely slipped my mind!

            BMT also have SALVAS, which looks to be a decent replacement for the capabilities lost when Diligence was axed. It also houses the option for a built-in Submarine Rescue System, which would be a nice addition to the capabilities we already have in that field.

      • Lusty,

        We have no need for new MCM ships per se, This will be done by the MCM solution and for me run out of a T31.

        I would much prefer 25 T31’s instead of Rivers and MCM’s, as this gives us a better combat fleet and a standardised fleet that reduces cost.

        What I do think needs to be discussed is the sizing of ships and whether we should have a corvette.

        Without being prescriptive, if we accept that the 150m long T26 hull is the format for our destroyers (high end warships) and that we drop to a 120m hull for T31 (frigate) then what do we need / do below this is a valid question.

        I am often reminded that steel is cheap and air is free, so we seem to have gotten bigger and that is fine by me, but I suspect there is a requirement for something around 90m long (C-sword 90 is a great example) and probably something at 50m and 25m, problem is we cant really man all of these.

        To get the scale in the higher ends of the fleet I think we need to move to T26, T31 and then all the way down to a Safeboats Mk 6 (or similar)/ CB90’s. We should then look to run these smaller vessels out of home ports around the UK or from our larger platforms.

        Unfortunately we cant have it all, and my preference is to have a combat fleet that packs punch, but as it gets older (t31’s especially) can be lean manned and move to less high end tasking.

        Ultimately, we need circa 20 so large RFA/Amphib/Hospital etc..ships, 25 T31 and 13 T26 that are full spectrum and 5 specialist hulls. This should be our RN going forward and all should be built in the UK. An 80 ship navy is my plan (ships being defined as over 80m)

    • This may offend some of you, so please understand that I am not attempting to insult anyone in the UK. I just want to provide an alternate, outsider’s viewpoint and of British Industry. If you are offended, I apologize in advance.
      60 years ago was when the reputation of British built products started going downhill. Whereas Japan, Germany, and Korea were rebuilding from the ashes of WW2, UK industry languished. It just seems by a bad combination of Governmental Ineptitude, and bad Industrial judgment, the products produced were “not up to snuff.”
      While countries like Japan, and now Korea built up the quality and reliability of their manufactured products, the opposite seemed to be happening to British exports. Today, if I were to say “Toyota Corolla” everyone would agree that it is a well built and reliable car. Today, in the UK, there is not one British owned automobile manufacturer of significance left. Why? Because nobody wanted to buy anything British as the automobiles from some other countries (like Japan) were far more reliable and better built.
      When I was living in the USA, the joke was how bad British cars were. Jaguars had to have their engines replaced with Chevrolet engines to have a modicum of mechanical reliability. There were even kits being offered for the swap. Sports cars like the Triumph TR6 were considered “lemons” by most. These cars spent more time in the shop than on the road.
      Then there’s “Lucas.” Whenever someone talks about Lucas Electrics or Electronics, it was how the entire wiring harness of a British car had to be replaced, and every electrical component in it. People made a living doing this. That’s how bad British products were considered.
      I use to work for a company that provided the Illustrated Parts Catalog (IPC) for Boeing, and then McDonnell Douglas commercial aircraft. When their blueprints, and their instructions came in, there was a logic and order to the documents. Even documents that were 10 or 15 years old were in the same format. It was easy to understand and follow once you knew how they were set up.
      Then we got a contract to provide the IPC for a British Aerospace aircraft that was to enter service with the USAF. It was a hodge-podge of information that needed to be “deciphered.” Even our English liaison person from BAe felt the same way. There were jokes from our counterparts in the UK about the engineering documents and how disjointed, and uncoordinated they were.
      Is it true? Well, you live or die by your reputation. When a country starts being known for their products being unreliable, poorly built, and more than its worth, then it is a death knell for their industries. Whether it is true or not. The tarnish on the UK industrial base has stuck, even to this day. There is a lot to be done to have that perception changed. It has to be at all levels, from the unions, the companies, and the government. That’s what needs to be done if the UK wants to be a commercial success in any industry.

      • Rokuth. But, We can do It right when we try, Take Triumph Motorcycles. The Original Triumph company went the way of so many others as you correctly say above. Then a Builder decides to bring Triumph back to Life, this time though he Invested in all the right ways and now Triumph are a Global Player. Mr Bloor deserves a Knighthood If you ask me.

        • Agreed. If the rest of British industry could follow suit, it would be great. However, there is still the perception that needs to be overcome. Toyota still sells on their reputation of reliability and durability. However, their products are no longer the gems they once were. Other companies have surpassed Toyota but don’t sell as well because they don’t have the same reputation.

  6. Its all very well demanding government contracts but we need yards to be winning commercial orders also, we need guarantees that once orders are placed the yards, unions and workforce will stop at nothing to be the most productive in the world. BAe has had TOBA in place for years but still has quality issues and is inefficient. Sir John Parkers report does not suggest there’s endless UK government money to yards, he makes it clear its a catalyst for yards to invest so the can win more exports and diversity.

    Sir John acknowledges in the report that guaranteed work has been a failure, and that yards that have won commercial contracts are more efficient an offer lower rates.

    At no point does the report state UK industry should be guaranteed work at any cost to the tax payer. Point 10 from the report I think is hugely important.

    10. Contracts should be tautly drawn to properly incentivise Industry to invest in support of their “global competitiveness plan” and deliver to time, within the agreed cost envelope. This should provide a firm cost base and delivery to the milestones laid down in the Master Plan.

  7. Sea King AEW conversion programme. Compketed under budget, under time, original amount of Sea Kings converted and delivered. Although a few years ago.

    • Under pressure of wartime needs. Red tape eliminated, useless regulations ignored, unions cooperated. Those reasons don’t exist today.

  8. off subject, is it time to reconsider the warships only built in the u.k policy and the submarines, will be nuclear powered only?

    • andy reeves – my opinion is this ,my heart says no,but my head says yes.If front line Warships were offered to Foreign Tenders perhaps that would provide UK yards with the proverbial Kick Up the Backside some say they need to improve efficiency and quality but reduce costs.

  9. One of the problems with Manufacturing in Britain as I see it is a lack of passion. You need passion in making anything and you need to be looking at the competition continually to ensure your product is as good or better. Passion and skill.

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