Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 10:54 UK

Carrier deal 'saves 35,000 jobs'

An aircraft carrier
Aircraft carriers are a vital part of the Royal Navy's fleet

The contracts for the UK's biggest ever aircraft carriers have saved 35,000 jobs dependent on Portsmouth naval base, according to the local MP.

Sarah McCarthy-Fry said the deal, which was signed on Thursday, has secured the future of the base following concerns of its closure.

The 65,000-tonne vessels will be built at shipyards in Portsmouth, Glasgow, Fife and Barrow in Furness.

Some 1,200 jobs will be secured or created at shipbuilder VT in the city.

One hundred and forty five jobs will also be secured in Frimley, Surrey, at BAE Systems, which is in partnership with VT.

Spokesman for VT Phil Rood said: "This is great news for Portsmouth. It will sustain about 1,000 jobs and a further 200 which we have taken on in light of the contract.

'Never in doubt'

"It is tremendously important for the future of ship-building and the long-term confidence of the naval base."

The contract has been hailed as saviour of the wider economy of the area, because Portsmouth naval base had been under government review.

Ms McCarthy-Fry said retailers, suppliers and numerous local services would see the benefit.

"I have campaigned to save the base after it was placed under threat and this is a massive step," the Labour MP for Portsmouth North added.

"A study showed 35,000 jobs were dependent on the naval base in the travel to work area - this gives these positions security.

"Plus, with the ships being based here, the base will be secure as the UK's premier naval port for many years."

Aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales - 280m (920ft) long and capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft - are due in service in 2014 and 2016.

Each vessel will be crewed by 1,450 sailors and air personnel.

The building of the two aircraft carriers is expected to create or secure a total of 10,000 shipbuilding jobs across the UK, including 4,600 in Scotland and 400 in Barrow-in-Furness.

Graphic of the Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF)
Displacement: 65,000 tonnes
Length: 280m (920ft)
Width (at flight-deck level): 70m (230ft)
Keel to masthead: 56m (184ft)
Nine decks (plus flight deck)
Speed: 25+ knots
Range: 8,000-10,000 miles
Aircraft: 36 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and four Airborne Early Warning aircraft, plus EH 101 Merlin helicopters
Crew: 1,450 (including air crew)
Weapons: Phalanx close-in weapon systems; 30mm and mini-guns
Source: Ministry of Defence

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