Aircraft Carriers delayed by up two years
Work spread out will sustain shipyards it is claimed...
The Ministry of Defence has announced today that the completion of the new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy will be delayed by up to two years.
There are fears that cuts or delays would cause gaps in the workload, seriously affecting shipyards around the UK who depend on the orders, however Glasgow South MP Ian Davidson told the BBC it was not so much a delay as spinning the order out over a longer period.
In a statement issued today, embedded in a general announcement on equipment procurement, the MoD said,
"Construction on the ships is already under way and will continue with minimal implications to jobs and industry."
The MoD said the decision was made in order to bring the completion of the two ships, HMShips QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCE OF WALES, into line with the introduction of the Joint Combat Aircraft.
Bernie Hamilton, Unite National Officer for Aerospace and Shipbuilding, said: "Unite is delighted by the statement made today. It is great news for our members and workers in the shipbuilding industry in the UK.
"This announcement will mean that the peaks of work that the two carriers brought will be flattened out. It will secure employment for workers in the sector for many more years with a stable workload.
The shipyards working on the two vessels are: BVT Surface Fleet in Glasgow and Portsmouth, the Appledore shipyard in North Devon, the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard and the yard at Rosyth, where the ships will be completed.
Not everyone has welcomed the announcement, with the Scottish National Party condemning it as 'a major mistake.'
Govan MSP and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose constituency takes in one of the BVT yards, said:
"Workers at BVT will be concerned today at the impact of these delays on their jobs.
"John Hutton must guarantee there are no job losses as a result of the Labour Government's decision to delay these carriers.
"These contracts were supposed to signed, sealed and ready to be delivered.
"As usual the Ministry of Defence have made bold promises to workers in Glasgow which are rapidly being broken.
"I will be in contact with John Hutton to secure a guarantee that there will be no delay in starting these contracts and that no gap will be allowed to appear in the contracts for Govan, Scotstoun or Rosyth."
Meanwhile the SNP's Defence spokesperson, Angus Robertson MP said,
"This delay to the carrier programme is a disgraceful breach of trust by the Labour government with the shipyards and workforce."
Critics point out that the Government promised delivery schedules of 2012 for the first ship with the second in 2014 and that this announcement is more about budget cuts than defence needs.