The contract to build the UK’s new cutting-edge £200m polar exploration ship should be awarded to Portsmouth to revive local shipyards after last year’s BAE job cuts, MPs for the city have urged
In a letter to Chancellor George Osborne, Mike Hancock, an Independent MP for Portsmouth South, wrote that despite the European regulations requiring the UK government to consider foreign bids, it was imperative the new ship was built in Portsmouth to help the local ship building industry to recover from last year’s BAE decision to stop operations at the historic shipyard, which made 900 people redundant.
"This represents a massive opportunity to right the wrongs that were inflicted on the people of Portsmouth through no fault of their own,” Hancock wrote.
"Government and commercial decisions dealt a hard blow to the city and this new ship provides the perfect chance to rectify this situation. I would argue it is absolutely essential the government does the right thing – build the vessel in the UK and put the Portsmouth dockyard and its workforce back into work and retain those shipbuilding skills before they are lost forever."
Conservative MP for Portsmouth North Penny Mordaunt supported his stance. "This is a great opportunity. I have requested a meeting with the Chancellor about it, along with a number of other things to do with the dockyard,” she said.
"The timetable of this suits us well because they will be putting this out to tender now and the ship would be in its trials in 2018 – we are looking at moving very quickly on this. It is clearly the sort of ship that our local workforce is all about."
Last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the government will fund the new vessel, a replacement for the UK's two current polar exploration ships, which are nearing the end of their lives.
The ship will have on-board laboratories and carry cutting-edge technology including robotic submarines and underwater gliders to gather data on marine biology and ocean conditions.