Fears are growing that a £1bn-plus contract to build ships to supply the Navy’s new aircraft carriers could be abandoned in expected defence cuts, damaging Britain’s struggling shipbuilding industry.
Bidding to build up to three “fleet solid support” (FSS) ships to supply aircraft carriers with stores such as ammunition and food was halted in the autumn when none of the bidders could meet the terms required.
Now defence insiders say the programme is seen as likely to be abandoned if the military budget is cut because of the costs run up battling coronavirus.
However, building the FSS vessels is seen as a key way of maintaining the country’s shipbuilding sector, as well as being part of the Government’s “levelling up” agenda, creating jobs in depressed regions.
Ian Waddell, general secretary of the Shipbuilding and Engineering Union, said: “The FSS programme is a perfect example of what the Prime Minister would call a ‘shovel-ready’ project. “It will get the post-coronavirus economy up and running as part of the levelling up agenda by injecting £1.3bn into regional economies and could benefit every single shipyard in the UK.” (end of excerpt)
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