Falmouth's A&P shipyard wins £80m fleet contract
A Westcountry shipyard has bagged an £80 million contract to maintain the Navy's fleet of support ships – ensuring scores of jobs.
A&P in Falmouth, which employs around 400 staff in the Cornish town, has secured a five-year extension to a deal supporting the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) flotilla.
Maritime contracts worth nearly £350 million have been awarded to five British companies, including A&P, to work on the 13-strong fleet.
Since 2008, the firm has collaborated on a maintenance deal with fellow dockyard operators on a "cluster" of ships, with the promise of providing more value-for-money for the taxpayer.
Peter Child, managing director of A&P Falmouth, said: "Clustering has achieved a far more economical approach to ship repair and maintenance of the RFA Flotilla through advanced planning, our knowledge of the vessels, our highly skilled workforce and pride of "ownership" of the ships.
"The cluster programme team has worked very hard on this contract in Falmouth and around the world supporting ships on deployment.
"Extension of this contract reaffirms that A&P can be trusted to meet the very complex needs of our clients and the longer term contract term helps to give A&P Group yards security in our future."
Defence Minister Philip Dunne said: "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."
Since 2009, major refits have been completed in Falmouth by A&P on four support ships – Argus, Mounts Bay, Largs Bay and Cardigan Bay.
A five-month programme of work on RFA Lyme Bay is under way, which includes an overhaul of the main engines and propulsion systems and a full re-paint.
The fleet provides essential support such as food, fuel and munitions to the Royal Navy at sea.
The other yards to benefit from the contract are Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, Lloyds Register in Bristol, Trimline in Southampton and Hempel in Cwmbran.
David Hulse, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This is welcome news in these bleak times.
"GMB maintains that the shipyard workers are just as important as the armed forces to our nation's defences which is why it is crucial that the MoD plan procurement to ensure capacity and skills."
Gerald Pitts, A&P's cluster director, said: "The longevity and continuity of this contract means we can take forward opportunities for innovation and improvement we have identified since being awarded the Through Life Support contract in 2008."