THE group that lobbies for Barrow shipyard has welcomed the £300m aircraft carrier order.
BAE is to design and build the central section of each of two large carriers, creating at least 400 contract jobs and safeguarding vital design jobs until they are needed for a new breed of nuclear missile submarines.
Terry Waiting, the chairman of Keep Our Future Afloat Campaign, which was set up in the wake of shock job losses at the yard in 2003 and 2004, said: “The carrier project means our five-year intensive lobby for more naval shipbuilding and submarine orders, has achieved a significant milestone with a return to surface warship building in Barrow now set to happen.
“The project will bring investment in assembly facilities and secure the future of design jobs in particular.
“It also means the government has heeded the advice of their independent advisers, Rand, which in 2005 said Barrow ‘remains an untapped source of production capability that could likely play a significant role in the coming shipbuilding programme’.
“This is a view KOFAC has strongly advocated since the last large warship was completed at Barrow in 2004.”
Mr Waiting added: “Barrow’s core shipbuilding business is nuclear-powered submarines, on which our future and that of several thousand people depends.
“It is crucial that the government complements the carrier announcement with a commitment to fund a steady flow of nuclear-powered submarine orders to enable the Royal Navy to have the resources it needs.”
Harry Knowles, chief executive of Furness Enterprise, said: “First and foremost we welcome the return of surface shipbuilding to the Barrow shipyard.
“The project will bring a multi-million pound investment in specialist assembly facilities and secure the future of several hundred jobs, including an important design workload for the highly-skilled engineers based in Barrow.”
He said the contract would help boost Cumbria’s economy.
Furness MP and business minister John Hutton visited the shipyard last Friday to meet design staff already working on the carrier project and he also viewed a large model, based on the new ships, Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales.