Submarine deal secures future for hundreds of Glasgow jobs

 IT IS taller than a Glasgow tenement and packs more punch than the late Gorbals-born world flyweight boxing champion Benny Lynch ever did.

The latest structure completed by Clyde shipbuilders

The latest structure completed by Clyde shipbuilders

The latest structure completed by Clyde shipbuilders

BAE Systems Clyde shipbuilders unveiled its latest engineering fete – a man-made island of steel which will tower over Britain’s newest aircraft carrier.

The Aft Island unit is 31m tall.

It is the tallest structure ever to be built at the Scotstoun warship yard and is the maritime equivalent of an air traffic control tower.

A flight commander will take charge of the hand picked personnel who will manage the fighter jets and helicopters which will fly from the new carrier.

The Ministry of Defence has yet to release details of the number of staff who will be on operational duty on ‘the island’ when the nation’s biggest warship goes into action.

But it is thought the on-board controllers could be responsible for up to 40 fighter jets, though the average number is likely to be 12.

The towering steel structure comprises nine decks, which include sleeping accommodation and a briefing room for pilots.

Once completed, it will bristle with radar and antenna.

It will also be used by a sailor to steer the massive carrier, under instruction from the ship’s captain who will be located elsewhere on the vessel.

The latest carrier block to be manufactured by Scotstoun and workers at the sister Govan yard is 32 metres long and unlike any ship ever seen on the Clyde.

Project head Derek McCaffrey, from Stewarton, East Ayrshire, said: “It’s shape dictates its radar signature. The smaller the signature the safer the crew from enemy attack.”

From the first steel cut in January last year it has taken 86 weeks to build the unit. It will be loaded and welded on to a barge in less than two weeks time before taken around Scotland’s northern coastline to Rosyth, where the super sized carrier – being built in sections at yards across the UK – is being put together like a giant metal jigsaw.

The Aft Island is the most intricate and most advanced block produced so far on the Clyde for the multi-billion pound carrier programme and the workmanship has impressed Systems Into Service Director Steven Carroll.

He is responsible for the delivery of both carriers – the Prince of Wales is the second of the fleet.

From the tradesmen at Scotstoun to the yard’s own specialist design engineers, he saluted them all when he said: “They have done a fantastic job.

“It was a 90-week programme but they managed to complete four weeks earlier than scheduled, which is all to their credit.”

 

Govan-based Thales Optronics is to help support the Royal Navy’s fleet of submarines as part of 10-year deal with the Ministry of Defence.

The deal will see the French-owned defence contractor manage the visual systems fitted on every Royal Navy submarine including the periscopes for the four Vanguard nuclear ballistic missile subs which form Britain’s so called nuclear deterrent as well as the five nuclear-powered Trafalgar fleet.

The contract will also see Thales maintain optronic masts fitted on the Navy’s new of Astute nuclear-driven subs.

Thales UK chief executive Victor Chavez, said: “This contract reinforces our positive well-established relationship with the Royal Navy.”

And Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, said said the new long term contract was good for the MoD and Thales.

He added: “Not only will it secure a number of jobs across the UK while delivering savings but will also provide essential support for the combat equipment that helps give the Royal Navy’s fleet of ships and submarines a vital technological edge wherever they are based in the world.”

The latest bumper contract comes almost exactly two years after Thales Optronics won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise after selling more than £100m of military equipment to foreign buyers over a 36-month period.

The defence manufacturer which specialises in optronic based products including hi-tech binoculars used by frontline soldiers as well as laser rangefinders and infra-red thermal cameras was previously known as Barr & Stroud Ltd.

It was a leading Scots engineering company launched 125 years ago in Glasgow and is now located in custom built premises in Linthouse Road.

News of the £600m deal comes as BAE Systems Clyde shipbuilders unveiled its latest engineering fete – a man-made island of steel which will tower over Britain’s newest aircraft carrier.

The Aft Island unit is 31m tall. It is the tallest structure ever to be built at the Scotstoun warship yard and is the maritime equivalent of an air traffic control tower.

A flight commander will take charge of the hand picked personnel who will manage the fighter jets and helicopters which will fly from the new carrier.

The Ministry of Defence has yet to release details of the number of staff who will be on operational duty on ‘the island’ when the nation’s biggest warship goes into action.

But it is thought the on-board controllers could be responsible for up to 40 fighter jets, though the average number is likely to be 12.

The latest carrier block to be manufactured by Scotstoun and workers at the sister Govan yard is 32m long and unlike any ship ever seen on the Clyde.

Project head Derek McCaffrey, from Stewarton, East Ayrshire, said: “It’s shape dictates its radar signature. The smaller the signature the safer the crew from enemy attack.”

From the first steel cut in January last year it has taken 86 weeks to build the unit. It will be loaded and welded on to a barge in less than two weeks time before taken around Scotland’s northern coastline to Rosyth, where the super sized carrier – being built in sections at yards across the UK – is being put together like a giant metal jigsaw.

Source – Evening Times

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