In early November BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s largest defence company, announced that it will cease warship production at the historic Portsmouth Dockyard site and will reduce its overall workforce by 1,775 jobs as the focus for naval manufacturing shifts to Scotland.
Ship construction at Portsmouth will cease in the second half of 2014, with some work for the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers moving to Glasgow in Scotland. Production of the new Type 26 Global Combat Ship will also take place in Glasgow. Job cuts will be split among BAE sites, with 940 to go at Portsmouth in 2014 and 835 at Filton in Wales as well as Glasgow and Rosyth.
The cuts will take place progressively through to 2016. The maritime services work at Portsmouth will be retained. The decision on Portsmouth ends more than 500 years of naval shipbuilding in the city. Vessels from Henry VIII’s Mary Rose to the galleons that drove off the Spanish Armada and the HMS Dreadnought, the first modern battleship, were built in the south-coast city.
Hopes remain that another shipbuilder, commercial or otherwise, will take over the modern facility.