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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 11:25 GMT
Yard disappointment over contract
Carrier impression
An artist's impression of one of the new aircraft carriers
A Tyneside shipbuilders has been hit with uncertainty after missing out on a multi-billion pound contract to build new aircraft carriers.

On Wednesday, Defence Secretary John Reid announced work on the project would be carried out in Portsmouth, Scotland and in Cumbria.

But the Swan Hunter yard was not named among the successful companies.

Mr Reid said there were still opportunities for those wishing to bid for the remaining 40% of the project.

Mr Reid said: "I fully understand the disappointment of Swan Hunter and people in the area.

"At the moment, of course, it is the Ministry of Defence's order book that is keeping the work going in Swan Hunter so I think people recognise that where possible we have tried to help there."

'Disappointing news'

But he said 40% of the contract was still open for bidders.

He said: "The door is still open to Swan Hunter to win a slice of the next 40% of these carriers and they are huge ships and 40% is a lot of build."

The news was greeted with disappointment by George Cowcher, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce,

He said: "This is very disappointing news for Swan Hunter as we felt it had a good chance of securing a share of the building work.

"However, there are still a whole host of opportunities for North East companies to grab. We have expertise in many sectors including marine, electronics and engineering. We also have the high quality companies to take on this important work.

"NECC will do all it can to ensure this region benefits from a contract of this magnitude."

Firm wins navy carrier contract
14 Dec 05 |  Hampshire

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