Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson insists that Portsmouth dockyard will remain operational as BAE Systems delivered the first of three ocean patrol vessels to the Brazilian Navy on Friday.
The Independent newspaper reported on Monday (25th) that a review into the future of British shipbuilding commissioned by defence secretary Phillip Hammond suggested the dockyard should close and its supercarrier warship programme should be delayed.
Attending the handover of ocean patrol vessel Amazonas from BAE Systems to the Brazilian Navy, Portsmouth council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: “There is an absolute 100% guarantee that the naval base remains here.
“The only other dockyards building warships in the UK are in Scotland. With a Scottish referendum ahead to decide whether to become independent the logic is that we have to keep Portsmouth operating,” he added.
Representatives from the Brazilian Navy, the Royal Navy and BAE Systems’ employees attended the handover at the Portsmouth base, which comes six months after a £133m contract for the supply of three ocean patrol vessels, originally intended for the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, was signed.
The 90m long vessel, all built in Portsmouth, is designed to perform maritime security in Brazil’s territorial waters and will also be used for search and rescue and humanitarian relief operations.
BAE Systems UK business development director Brian Johnson said that rather than featuring innovative individual technologies, the ship is innovative because of the process in which it was built.
“The innovation is more about manufacturing process innovation than individual parts. We have used engineering and technology from a multitude of areas to meet the Brazilian Navy’s specifics,” he said.
BAE will also provide training for over 80 members of the Amazonas crew in Portsmouth. The crew will complete their training in Plymouth, where the ship moves to in July, before setting sail for Brazil in August.
The second and third vessels are being built in Clyde, Scotland, and will be delivered to the Brazilian Navy in December 2012 and April 2013.