Impact of skills losses on naval ship build programmes
One of the most notable examples of this type
of problem arose due to the long workload gap between submarine
production that gave rise to problems with the "Astute"
submarine programme. BAE Systems' Mike Turner and Sir Kevin Tebbit
told the Public Accounts Select Committee that:
"The workforce at the Barrow shipyard
had been downsized so there were fewer skills and experienced
staff to cope with the complex task of designing a submarine VSEL
had no alternative because of the gap between the end of the Trident
and the state of Astute but to significantly downsize the workforce
undoubtedly a lot of experience went out of the yard and there
was a gap in maintaining the expertise" . . . at the time
we did not realize there had been such a great loss of skills".
"what had been lacking in the UK defence
industry for some time was a strategy on the naval side to keep
continuity in workforce and resources" (Q144).
"The way I would start answering that
is that we have had quite big problems over the Astute programme.
. . . Part of the reason for that was because we had stopped building
ballistic missile submarines, I believe, we had finished with
our Vanguards and there was then a gap, and, as you rightly say,
all the skilled workers, all the skilled designers, everybody
disappeared. There was then a gap and then we had to build this
up again, and that is not a clever way of doing things. You need
a drum beat of these things to get the best answer out of it,
and therefore to fall off the precipice and not do anything for
a while and then suddenly order them to do something is not a
clever way of doing it. Doing that within the constraints of our
funding and treasury rules and everything else is difficult".
29 Q141-142, Select Committee on Public Accounts,
23 February 2004. Back
Q141-142, Select Committee on Public Accounts, 23 February 2004. Back