Anger at defence chiefs set to downgrade £1billion order for new Royal Navy support ships
Union chiefs hit out at a feared downgrade of an order for new Navy support ships today.
The Ministry of Defence had been due to commission three Royal Fleet Auxiliary cargo vessels to link up with Britain’s new £6.2billion aircraft carriers.
The Mirror has already told how Tory minsters are poised to betray British workers by handing the £1billion contract to a foreign firm.
Now it has emerged only two of the ships are guaranteed to be built, with a third optional.
The official tender for the project, published today, says: “The Commercially Supported Shipping Team is seeking to procure up to 3 in number Fleet Solid Support Ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), with a firm requirement for 2 ships and an Option for a further 1 ship.”
GMB national officer Ross Murdoch said: “This is a hugely disappointing decision by the Government who have once again let down the UK’s shipbuilding communities.
“Not content with insisting these Royal Navy support ships are built overseas, now the pressure is on to build them in the UK, they want to only build two.
“What has this Government got against the UK shipbuilding industry?
“GMB demands the Government commit to three ships – and make sure they are built in UK yards.”
Ministers have so far resisted growing demands for the order to be given to a British firm.
They insist hey have to offer the deal to international companies because the vessels are not officially classed as warships.
However, the ships will be armed guns and, in the tender document, the “main activity” of the ships is listed as “defence”.
The document says: “Its cargo is the life blood for the warships but, as a platform, it is also essential that it does not detract from the operational aims of the group.
“The primary role is to support war-fighting operations.”
Further boosting the claim they could be seen as warships, it goes on: “The FSS ships will need to support all tasks for the future Royal Navy, from full Carrier strike war-fighting through to Peacetime operations.”
Finally, it adds: “The Solid Support ship has to operate and survive against a capable and hostile enemy threat and continue to deliver its prime logistic service to ensure overall mission success.”
The tender document reveals the 20mph ships will take seven years to deliver.
Unions say the order could secure up to 6,700 shipyard and supply chain jobs if it was won by a British shipyard.
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