Page last updated at 00:02 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 01:02 UK

Warship deal takes a step closer

HMS Daring, built by BAE Systems
The joint venture was formed by BAE Systems and VT Group

A maritime joint venture company has been officially launched, paving the way for a 4bn contract to build two aircraft carriers in the UK.

BVT Surface Fleet, a consortium formed between BAE Systems and VT Group, is expected to sign a contract to build the Royal Navy ships shortly.

Much of the work will be carried out at BAE's Govan shipyard in Glasgow and by Babcock Marine in Rosyth, Fife.

It is hoped the deal will lead to the creation of 10,000 jobs across the UK.

The rest of the work on the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will be carried out in Barrow-in-Furness and Portsmouth.

Alan Johnston, chief executive of BVT Surface Fleet, said the joint venture would secure the long-term future of the shipbuilding industry.

He said: "The formation of BVT will not only ensure that we are able to efficiently deliver the very best naval capability to the UK's armed forces, but also become a globally competitive and innovative leader in the export market for surface warships, support ships and through-life support."

The project to build the 65,000-tonne carriers was first announced in 2003, but was delayed due to Ministry of Defence spending plans.

The vessels were due to enter service in 2014 and 2016 with each likely to carry 36 fighter jets as well as four early warning aircraft.


SEE ALSO
Warship deal welcomed in Scotland
20 May 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Firms scoop 4bn carrier contract
20 May 08 |  Business
Warship contracts 'worth 390m'
12 May 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Bid talks to unite UK's shipyards
24 Mar 06 |  Business
Shipbuilder wins 150m contract
10 Apr 07 |  Hampshire

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