Financial Times: "Ministers set for Naval Spending Spree"


War Hero
Ministers are poised to sign off on a pre-election spending spree for the Royal Navy, including committing to two further Astute-class nuclear submarines.

The move is likely to infuriate the opposition, which has warned against procurement contracts be-ing placed so close to the election.

It will come less than 24 hours after the Ministry of Defence promised in the Budget to generate £120m worth of savings from cheaper procurement.

The department, which has so far contracted to buy four of the new submarines from BAE Systems, is expected to announce today that it intends to proceed with a fifth and a sixth boat although it will stop shy of awarding a build contract.

There had been concerns that the programme, which initially envisaged seven vessels and has been battling rising costs since its inception, could be at risk from the outcome of a strategic defence review, planned after the election.

The MoD is also expected to award BAE a £120m development contract for a new class of frigates destined to replace the Navy's Type 22 and Type 23 ships.

The moves are likely to draw fire from Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, who has attacked the department's recent procurement decisions, notably Monday's announcement that it was going ahead with a major army contract.

He branded Labour a "bankrupt shopaholic on one last spending binge before jail, spending taxpayers' money which they hope not to be responsible for".

The news will be a boost for BAE as it comes just days after it lost out to General Dynamics, a US rival, in a competition to build a new reconnaissance vehicle for the army.

It will also be good news for BAE's submarine yard at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria and a boost for the navy - and it will help safeguard jobs in key constituencies for Labour.

BAE announced in February that it planned to cut 230 jobs in its submarine business as it tried to keep costs down to meet the requirements of the MoD, although it said at the time it was still seeking to hire about 170 skilled engineers to work on the Astute programme.

The first boat, HMS Astute, was handed over to the Royal Navy late last year, the first new class of submarine launched for 17 years.

The nuclear-powered attack vessels, which will replace the Trafalgar class submarines, are the most technologically advanced nuclear submarines in the world with a sonar capable of tracking ship movements across thousands of miles. Their top speed is a state secret but they will dive deeper than 300 metres and can run 25 years without refuelling. They are designed to work alongside Trident.

Separately, Rolls-Royce, the aero-engine maker, is expected to receive a contract to support and maintain engines on Tornado jets for the Royal Air Force.


Lantern Swinger
Re: Financial Times: "Ministers set for Naval Spending Spree

This isn't a massive spending spree.

It's part of the industrial strategy of regular realistic work for the shipyards to avoid the boom and bust they've suffered from in the past.

I think once an election date is called no contracts, decisions can be awarded until the forming of a new parliament. This would not be an ideal situation during a major conflict!


War Hero
Re: Financial Times: "Ministers set for Naval Spending Spree

Anyone who can't see the connection between unexpected commitments to buy Naval vessels and the need for votes in the upcoming election is blind.After the election cuts in the order of 25% are forecast for the MOD.Where's the money coming from for these proposed new vessels. :?:


Lantern Swinger
Re: Financial Times: "Ministers set for Naval Spending Spree

I had it on good authority at the time that Geoff Hoon was seeking to get a token contract order in for the now long forgotten PCRS at a Labour shipbuilding constituency shortly before the 2005 election even though the project was nowhere near ready to award a contract
Sad. It's all very cynical isn't it. Labour whack in some big money items at the shipyards to keep their voters happy, safe in the knowledge that they'll never have to find the money to pay for them or if the Tories cancel the project they'll walk away smelling of roses and have a big stick to beat them with.

That really is fcuking low, trouble is Joe Public chinwagging down the local club over a few beers wont make the connection.


Surprised the Mail haven't had a whale of a time with this one. To summarise, Government hits two birds with one stone, supporting and maintaining jobs in a dwindling manufacturing sector, as well as keeping our updating aging frigates, and providing more service jobs with two more SSNs. Really kind of hard to make that sound bad when the price tag will be so minute in contrast to the overall budget of the MoD, never mind other departments.

Good to see the Financial Times throw in some political relevance. I don't really think the prime factor in choosing the Barrow-In-Furness site is because it's a predominantly Labour constituency, but I COULD be wrong.