Boat-building policy needs flexibility, says Barrow MP
A SHIPBUILDING strategy has come under fire from a local MP saying flexibility is needed to ensure the best boats are built.
The government has released its long-anticipated strategy for the future construction of Royal Navy ships.
Drawn up by industrialist Sir John Parker, the strategy is designed to speed up and reduce the cost of Ministry of Defence projects.
The MoD has come under harsh criticism for bloated projects running hundreds of millions of pounds over budget, and dragging on much longer than intended.
One proposal in the strategy - not allowing changes to a plan once it has been agreed upon - is cause for concern for Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock.
He said: "It's good that ministers have accepted Sir John's sensible recommendations but as ever the test will be whether they can deliver on them so that the amazing security we have in Barrow yard can be enjoyed in other yards constructing surface ships.
“But I do still have concerns, in particular the idea that there will be a total freeze on changes made after the design phase that may limit important upgrades, for example to the Astute boats built in Barrow.”
Mr Woodcock spoke in parliament this week, raising this issue to defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon.
The defence secretary said: "The ships that were planned have become heavier and more expensive and there have been significant delays in the Astute-class programme. I don't ascribe blame to those who work on the programme, but there is a tendency in the military to add the very latest equipment and so on, we need to get away from it."
In spite of requiring more clarity on future boat projects, Mr Woodcock said: "I am glad the government has finally produced this strategy, a full two years after it was announced, and that they have given some certainty to the businesses and the workforce that power UK shipbuilding."