THE jobs of hundreds of Birkenhead shipyard workers have been secured for years to come.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday confirmed plans to extend £349m of Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) maintenance contracts with five companies, including Cammell Laird, which will receive the lion’s share of the value of the work.
The announcement renews the RFA “through life support” contracts that were originally placed in 2008 for an initial period of five years. In a statement, the MoD said: “Following a review to ensure value for money, these contracts have now been extended for a further five years.”
It is understood around 400 jobs will be safeguarded at Cammell Laird. In total, 800 jobs will be supported around the UK.
The contracts, which cover the maintenance and repair of 13 RFA vessels, have the potential to run for up to 25 years.
Cammell Laird will carry out 67% of the work, with the remainder being divided between A&P Group, based in Falmouth, Lloyds Register, based in Bristol, Trimline, based in Southampton and Hempel UK, based in Cwmbran.
Cammell Laird managing director Linton Roberts said the company is “absolutely delighted”.
“A huge amount of effort, energy and dedication has gone into delivering the highest quality maintenance service on RFA vessels since 2008,” he said. “So we are very pleased to see the work recognised and our contract extended following a ‘value for money’ review by the Ministry of Defence.
“We have been working closely with the MOD on this contract for nearly five years and have built a very strong partnership.
“2012 alone has seen five major refits conducted at our Birkenhead yard and numerous maintenance periods supported around the world – in places as diverse as the Bahamas, the Falklands, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.”
The minister for defence, support and technology, Philip Dunne, said: “These Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships are crucial to the work of the Royal Navy and without them it simply could not operate. These substantial contracts will not only safeguard hundreds of UK jobs but will ensure that these ships can continue in their roles for years to come.”
Made up of fuel tankers, stores ships, a medical facility and landing ships, the RFA provides essential support such as food, fuel, munitions, and other vital supplies to the Royal Navy at sea.
David Hulse, of the GMB trade union, said: “This is welcome news in these bleak times.”
The contract extension will come as a relief to Cammell Laird, which had been expecting to cut jobs as some existing contracts came to an end.