Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence


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".[29]

    "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".[30]

October 2005

29   Q141-142, Select Committee on Public Accounts, 23 February 2004. Back

30   Q141-142, Select Committee on Public Accounts, 23 February 2004. Back

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