A Plymouth MP has described a plan which could see new Royal Navy support ships effectively built overseas and assembled in Britain as a “cop out” – and called for the ships to be wholly built in the UK.
The Government has announced a £1.6bn competition to deliver three fleet solid support ships, which will carry munitions and provisions for the UK’s aircraft carriers.
Yet a key component of the competition allows successful bidders to be allowed to work in partnership with international companies but are required to “integrate” the ships in UK yards.
Unions have also issued fierce criticism of the move, as they say it will allow the ships to be branded as “made in Britain” even after they have been mostly built overseas and just put together in the UK.
A Unite the Union national officer said: “The competition launched by the Government is slippery as an eel. The concept that the contract could be won by a UK-led bid but then designed and completed largely overseas is highly dubious. Instead, defence secretary Ben Wallace needs to show his commitment and faith in UK workers’ skills and expertise. UK’s shipyards are in parts of the country which should be at the forefront of the government’s levelling up agenda. If the work isn’t fully awarded to UK yards it would be a betrayal of those commitments and these communities.