HMS Edinburgh docks for the weekend

HMS Edinburgh docks in Leith Credit: Blythe Harkins

By Celeste Carrigan

The penultimate Royal Navy 42 Type Destroyer, HMS Edinburgh has docked in Leith for the weekend. Scotland’s capital ship will be open from 1pm to the public on Sunday 27 March 2011.

The public will be able to come on board and have a look around an active Royal Navy ship.

Edinburgh Napier News got exclusive photos of the ship as it docked in Edinburgh.

For more information on this story tune into Edinburgh Napier News TV Bulletin at 3PM

New nuclear sub sets sail for trials

Britain’s newest nuclear powered submarine has set sail for the first time today.

Astute under construction

The vessel, called ‘Astute’, is the first of a new class of attack subs set to be the biggest and most powerful in the fleet.

Defence Equipment and Support Minister Quentin Davies was upbeat about the launch.

“This is a significant milestone for Astute as she sails for the first time.” he said.

“Astute will now begin a set of sea trials ahead of her full acceptance with the Royal Navy next year.”

The MOD’s plan to build a total of seven astute class submarines have drawn criticism from campaigning groups.

John Ainsley, Scottish coordinator for the CND, says the whole program was running over budget.

“The four submarines that are finished and under construction now are already £1.2bn over budget” he said.

“Although they aren’t actually nuclear armed submarines this is of concern to us as it shows just how much money replacing Trident could potentially cost.”

The submarines are built by BAE systems.

Once trials are finished they will be able to circle the entire globe underwater and will never need to be refueled thanks to advanced nuclear technology.

Scottish Shipyard Jobs Under Threat

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By Karen Clark

Thousands of shipyard jobs in Scotland might be lost after it has emerged that work due to begin on building two aircraft carriers may be delayed because of the current economic climate. Work was set to begin in the spring of 2009 for the two 65,000 tonne aircraft after the contract was signed in July this year.

The warships, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, would be the biggest ever built in the UK and work is being shared between four shipyards at Govan and Rosyth in Scotland and Portsmouth and Barrow-in-Furness in England. The contract also effectively saved Rosyth Dockyard from closure and would create an estimated 1,600 jobs for the area.

The Ministry of Defence has said it is reviewing all major projects in a cost cutting exercise as it attempts to make savings in the midst of the credit crunch. The defence ministry has said, “The MoD is looking at all its major equopment programmes over the next 10 years, with a view to bearing down on costs and making sure the frontline troops are being properly supported.”

Now there are fears in the yards as job security is slipping away. Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat MP for Dunfermline who is also defence spokesman for the party at Westminster, said: “If this is just an efficiency drive it would be welcomed, but if they’re talking about slashing the contract there would be fury at the yards.”

When the contract was announced in March, the current First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band announced that he would resign in front of a Commons committee if it did not go ahead.

However, Commander Peter Adams of HMS Caledonia thinks that the media is being too quick to say that jobs are under threat because “nothing has been confirmed to me by the navy and I don’t know anything more other than what is being said in the newspapers.”

Apprentice welder, Gavin McKeeman 23, working at Rosyth Dockyard backed this up by saying, “My gaffer hasn’t been told anything for certain. The MoD would maybe have to supply work to keep the yard going during any delay. The rumour is two years. We’ve already cut the first pieces of steel. VT Portsmouth, BAE Govan and BAE Barrow will have started too.”

Ian Davidson, the Labour MP whose Glasgow South West constituency includes the Govan yard, cautioned against panic. “Even if there is a delay with the aircraft carriers, it’s not necessarily a bad thing so long as the yards are kept occupied,” he said.

HMS Dragon – God bless her and all who sail in her.

HMS Dragon

HMS Dragon

The Royal Navy launched the fourth T45 destroyer on the clyde in front of over 10,000 people yesterday.

HMS Dragon slipped from the Govan shipyard to the thumping beats of the Royal Marines band while British dignitaries and top navy brass looked on in delight as their £605 million acquisition began her maiden voyage to Scotstoun.

The fourth of six ships, HMS Dragon, along with the next two ships, has secured the jobs of thousands of shipyard builders workers well into the next decade.

Each of the 150m long vessels weighs in at about 7,350 tons and will replace the ageing T42 Destroyer fleet which have been in commission since HMS Exeter was launched in 1979.

Although work on the next two T45, HMS Defender and Duncan, is still ongoing their is controversy about whether three of the six ships will be mothballed or sold on to other countries.

One source, who asked not to be named, said: “The Royal Navy has been undermanned and undererquipped since the mid 90’s. Now we’re looking at the biggest procurement programme of the modern era, but exactly where are the people coming from to man these ships? recruitment is at an all time low and people are leaving in droves. This has left many sailors to assume that the ships will have to be sold on or mothballed”.

The T45 destroyers are being built alongside Submarines HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, Aircraft carriers HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth with a combined cost of £25 Billion, but more importantly has secure the jobs of thousands of people across the country.

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