Surface shipbuilding could return to a yard where hundreds of people have been made redundant, company bosses say.
Hundreds of people have already lost jobs at the Barrow yard
Defence giant BAE Systems is cutting 760 jobs, mainly at its Barrow yard in Cumbria where 3,000 people are currently employed building submarines.
The company says present orders for surface vessels cannot sustain numbers at Barrow.
But bosses have told a delegation that it remains hopeful surface ships can be built in Barrow in the future.
Councils, union and the area's MP have been calling for government help to secure the surface workforce at Barrow.
The yard is currently involved in the controversial Astute submarine programme for the Royal Navy, which has come in for criticism from the government's spending watchdog.
The National Audit Office has criticised the submarine development programme for being four years late and £1bn over budget.
Politicians and business leaders from Barrow had talks with BAE Systems on Monday.
They want to keep surface shipbuilding in the town.
The firm said cuts to the government's defence budget had meant naval shipbuilding as a whole was suffering.
But bosses agreed the opportunity was available for either the design, or design-and-build of surface ships to continue in Barrow in the future.
A BEA spokesman said: "The doors remain open for surface shipbuilding to return to Barrow.
"The Astute contract is due to run until 2012. We have until then to come up with orders for Barrow."
Barrow MP John Hutton, described the talks with BAE as "useful and constructive".
The delegation is due to meet Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt in June.