Unite, Britain’s largest union for defence workers, called on the government to safeguard UK shipbuilding jobs for generations to come by guaranteeing that the navy’s three new Fleet Solid Support ships will be built in UK shipyards.

The call came as defence secretary Gavin Williamson today (Monday 14 May) put pen to paper on a £1.5 billion contract to build the seventh Astute submarine in the UK.

The contract, which will help sustain approximately 8,000 jobs in BAE Systems' submarine business comes ahead of tomorrow’s launch (Tuesday 15 May) of a report that warns the UK will miss out an economic windfall of up to £1.35 billion if the government hands the build of the Navy’s three new Fleet Solid Support ships to overseas shipyards.

The report, Supporting the Royal Navy, supporting the United Kingdom, for the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) and supported by Unite will be launched by ship workers from across the UK in the Houses of Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday 15 May), 16:00 – 18:00 Wilson Room, Portcullis House, SW1A 2JR. 

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Today’s news will help sustain thousands of highly skilled jobs in BAE’s submarine business and throughout the supply chain, but the government can and should do more to safeguard UK shipbuilding for generations to come.

“Ministers could seize an economic windfall worth an additional £1.35 billion, as well as securing jobs in UK shipbuilding and manufacturing communities for generations to come, by committing to manufacture the navy’s three new Fleet Solid Support ships in Britain.

“A failure to do so would hand the economic benefits of building these ships to another country and betray the UK’s shipbuilders who have fought to get the industry out the doldrums over recent years. 

“Theresa May’s government needs to back UK defence workers and our manufacturing industries by guaranteeing Royal Navy ships are made in UK yards from Belfast to Rosyth and Merseyside to Plymouth with British steel, as part of an industrial and defence strategy that supports UK plc.”


For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.  

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.