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UK Defence Secretary tours Scottish shipyards

The UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps MP met with apprentices, engineers and key industry leaders yesterday during a visit to key Scottish shipyards, which play a crucial role in the Navy’s shipbuilding pipeline and the UK’s security.

Above: Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps MP.
Courtesy MoD

Visiting Govan, where BAE Systems are building Type 26 frigates and HMNB Clyde, home of the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet, the Defence Secretary met with key industry leaders, staff and apprentices, observing the significant progress on the major warship production programme.

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Scotland is the beating heart of military shipbuilding, with eight Type 26 ships being built in Glasgow and five Type 31 frigates being built by Babcock International in Rosyth. This supports and is supported by the local maritime infrastructure, supply chains and extensive skills and training resources. On a tour at BAE Systems in Govan, the Defence Secretary saw the Type 26 frigates in build and toured HMS Cardiff.

More than 12,000 jobs in Scotland are directly supported by Defence, with more than £2 billion spent annually with UK industry in Scotland. Over 5,000 jobs will be created or sustained across the build of Type 26 and Type 31 programmes alone and just under 1,000 apprentices will be trained to provide the skill required to build and maintain our Royal Navy fleet.

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: "As the home of the nuclear deterrent – which keeps us all safe around the clock – nobody can question that Scotland is absolutely central to the UK’s security.

"As Shipbuilding Tsar, it is fantastic to see the positive impact that the Scottish shipbuilding industry plays. A sector once restricted by periods of ‘boom and bust’ is now witnessing a resurgence, with Scottish shipyards buzzing with activity and its workforce expanding.

"Brand new warships will operate around the world, looking after our nation’s interests, for decades to come, and they will have been built by highly skilled shipbuilders right here in Glasgow. We continue to back the UK defence industry in Scotland with billions of pounds every year, supporting thousands of jobs and apprenticeships.”   

At HMNB Clyde, the home of the UK’s nuclear deterrent submarines, the Defence Secretary visited an attack submarine. HMNB Clyde is currently one of the largest employers in Scotland and is in the process of increasing its on-site staff from 6,800 to over 8,000, whilst the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has committed to spending more than £3 billion on sites in Scotland, including £1.6 billion on the Clyde Infrastructure Programme, to establish it as the home of the UK’s submarine fleet.  

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The Defence Secretary, in his role as Shipbuilding Tsar, is responsible for overseeing all of the government’s interests in UK shipbuilding. The Government’s commitment to UK Shipbuilding through the Refreshed National Shipbuilding Strategy has allowed industry to invest for the future, with BAE Systems’ £12 million Applied Shipbuilding Skills Academy and the construction of a modern shipbuilding hall in Govan currently underway.   

The Government issued its response to the UK Shipbuilding Skills Taskforce report yesterday. In response to recommendations within, the report the National Shipbuilding Office has launched the shipbuilding Skills Delivery Group. This group will drive the delivery of the Taskforce recommendations and will be a champion for skills within the UK Shipbuilding Enterprise.

Grant Shapps also announced the Chair of the Group will be Paul Sheerin and the two met at Govan shipyard.
 
Paul Sheerin, Chair of Skills Delivery Group said: "It is critical for the UK shipbuilding enterprise that the skills gap is addressed, and to ensure that this can happen there needs to be a unified approach across different skills systems, across different parts of the enterprise and across government and the devolved administrations.  

"I am extremely excited to chair the SDG, working alongside a highly knowledgeable and experienced membership comprised of representatives from across the whole enterprise. With the continued support of the Shipbuilding Tsar and the NSO, I look forward to working with the Group to deliver a positive impact on skills within this vital sector to the UK.

Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack said: "Scottish-based critical defence assets play a crucial role in the security of the UK. As well as helping to keep us all safe, defence also delivers thousands of high-skilled jobs and billions of pounds investment in Scotland, driving prosperity and boosting the Scottish economy. I’m proud that Scottish skills, expertise and innovation make such an enormous contribution to the UK’s defence industry."

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