Here (for what its worth) is what I think.
BAE Systems Maritime is owned entirely by BAE Systems PLC. Its a pretty big set up being as it is the largest ship builder in Britain and one of the largest builders of warships in Europe. You'll know already from the news about the sites in Glasgow (Scotstoun and Govan) and of course the site in Portsmouth. They also run operations in Rosyth, a project management centre in Filton (near Bristol) and since 2011 when BAE Systems Submarine Solutions (your one-stop-shop for submersibles) was subsumed into BAE Systems Maritime - the submarine manufacturing facility at Barrow-in-Furness.
|Team GB's £1.2B HMS Astute appears from between the doors of Barrow-in-Furness - home of the UK's main penis factory - eh - I meant nuclear submarine facility.|
In all - the maritime side of BAE employs around 7000 people, 4400 of which in ship building activities. To break that down, 3400 in Glasgow, Rosyth and Filton; and a further 1200 in Portsmouth. In total, BAE will cut out 1775 jobs across these facilities - 940 at Portsmouth and 835 across Scotstoun, Govan, Rosyth and Filton. Ship building will end completely at Portsmouth although refitting and maintenance will continue.
First of all, any job loss on that scale is bad, it devastates towns and cities with primary and secondary effects, this shouldn't be a political football but as usual, in the current political climate, it is. Everything Westminster and Holyrood does is refracted through the lens of the independence debate and while some are blaming that on Scotland/The SNP/Alex Salmond (delete applicable) for having the referendum in the first place, that isn't really a logical position to take. I mean for a person to take this view (and a lot are) you'd have to accept two things; firstly that we (which ever way you lean) can ignore a completely defunct constitutional settlement which disadvantages all component nations of the UK and secondly; that the future of Scotland can be mortgaged for some boats that wouldn't even be ours if you believe unionist rhetoric.
Looking to the future, three OPV's* will be built as a stop gap measure in Glasgow shipyards until the plans for the 13 Type 26 frigates have 'matured', at which point, the Glasgow yards would continue with that work. The plans however won't be complete until after the referendum which means, if Scotland does vote yes, in line with Westminster's vow never to build warships 'abroad', those orders 'might' not go to Glasgow shipyards after all.
|* This is an OPV or Offshore Patrol Vessel.|
|*An artist's impression of a Type 26 Global Combat Ship.|
We can't be too naive about it, competition from Japan, Korea and other places is strong. Instead of attempting to compete, it seems successive Westminster governments haven't even tried - they've sat back and relied upon naval defence procurement and it seems to me - they've done it deliberately.
This isn't Scotland's fault - we have no control over this, nor is it BAE's - they're running a business. The blame sits squarely on Westminster's doorstep. Decades of failure to encourage and ensure diversified shipbuilding, in its place, an over reliance on financial services and city centre consumption. Why is it always the UK who can't compete in ship building? Why is it always UK yards who lose out to Korean or Norwegian yards?
This needs to be fixed, Westminster - fixated by shiny things that go bang made by BAE - clearly isn't the institution for the job. I don't work in ship building so its easy for me to sit here and tell those who do to stay the course or to switch over to a yes vote. No one in Scotland has any control over these issues, what we have is the fall out when it goes tits up. When Phillip Hammond etc has a brain fart in Westminster, it smells here in Scotland.
I have no idea if the type 26 orders would stay in Glasgow if a yes vote wins out, I hope though, we don't trade in a walk-on part in Britain's defence procurement plans for what I think will be a much brighter & more productive future for Scottish shipbuilding.
Similar to Grangemouth, without an accountable Scottish Government in control, the punchline will eventually end up being at Scotland's expense.