3 Refit and maintenance- Rosyth |
41. The Ministry of Defence also awards contracts
for the refit and maintenance of its warships. For example, HMS
Portland, one of the Type 23 frigates, recently spent 50 weeks
being refitted in Fife by Babcock at a cost of £27 million.
Such refitting work is very important to Rosyth. Raymond Duguid,
from Unite, Rosyth, told the Committee:
Refit and ship repair is our core work; that is the
bedrock on which we can build business, so we need that. [...]
The only person we do refitting and repair for at the moment is
the Royal Navy.
Mr Duguid said the skills and facilities at Rosyth
are not aimed towards refitting merchant vessels but rather Rosyth
maintains "high-end, high-technology combative ships."
42. Peter Luff said the Ministry of Defence would
apply the same rules for refit as for ship construction, namely:
We often focus on the construction of a particular
platform or asset. Through-life maintenance and support are often
of a greater value to the economy. We would not be able to maintain
complex warships in a country where we could not guarantee our
freedom of action. It is as though Scotland would disqualify itself
from the maintenance of ships.
I do not see how we could maintain an aircraft carrier
in a separate Scotland.
43. The next such contract to be awarded is for
the two Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, could be as much as the
construction costs and provide work for fifty years.
(The construction costs are now estimated at over £6.2 billion.)
The size and complexity of the carriers would necessitate different
elements of the support package requiring different facilities.
For example, the carrier would need to be rearmed from a munitions
depot that has a jetty with a licence to handle munitions.
Part of the maintenance cycle would require a dry dock, but Portsmouth
does not have a suitable dry dock for a 65,000-tonne carrier,
that facility would have to be found in England or abroad.
The most expensive part of the support package is in supporting
the combat systems and the technology associated with a complex
warship,  and Mr
Dunne told us that "Security will clearly play a part"
in the decision around support to the carriers.
Timing of the carrier support
44. The Royal Navy is currently going through
an assessment of the 'support package' for the carriers, with
the decision where the carriers will be maintained being made
"in about two years time".
Vice-Admiral Mathews explained that the decision might be staggered:
It will probably be a transitional first phase, where
we will let an initial support phase, to understand the real requirements
for supporting this new and very large carrier. So we will have
the first ship at sea; we will sustain that through an initial
transition phase; and then we will go into a much longer-term
support contract thereafter, as the second ship comes into service.
That is the sort of concept that we are looking at.
45. Mr Dunne said that the decision would be
primarily driven by value for money criteria but that "Security
will clearly play a part." At the same time he denied that
the date of the referendum was influencing the decision as to
where the carrier support and maintenance would take place:
The best I can say in helping to address your concern
is that by the time we come to be supporting these vessels post
the referendum, it would undoubtedly add to the uncertainty if
Scotland were an independent country because they would be treated
like other independent countries that are partners and allies
if we were looking at a docking site external to the UK. They
would not be able to benefit from our current position, which
is that we would wish to do so within the UK.
46. At the moment, there are
facilities in Scotland that are well placed to carry out the support
work for the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, and if successful,
could guarantee work spread over fifty years. The same rules around
limiting contracts to build warships within the UK on national
security grounds also apply to aspects of the contract for refit
and maintenance, where the UK would wish to preserve its freedom
of action. The decision as to the support contract for the carriers
similarly appears to be subject to the same uncertainty as that
for the Type 26 frigates brought about by the referendum.
69 HMS Portland home to Plymouth after £27
million refit, 18 December 2012, www.royalnavy.mod.uk Back
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NAO Report, Carrier Strike, HC 1092, 7 July 2011 Back
There are two in Scotland that would be suitable: Glen Douglas
in Argyll and Crombie in Fife. Back
Cammel Laird in Liverpool was given to us as an example. Qq 2034-36 Back
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