Government minister set to visit South Tyneside ship yard later this month

A high-ranking defence chief will be in South Tyneside later this month for what could prove a major boost to a shipbuilder’s order books.

By Gareth Crickmer
Friday, 31 May, 2019, 19:01
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn.

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew will tour Hebburn’s A&P Tyne yard at the behest of Jarrow Labour MP Stephen Hepburn.

It is the second visit by a senior government defence boss to the yard in less than two years, following that of former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in October 2017.

Mr Andrew, the Minister for Defence Procurement and MP for Pudsey, West Yorks, will be in the borough on Thursday, June 27.

Mr Hepburn said his visit was an opportunity to push for more government orders for what he described as a “brilliant” shipyard.

He added: “I am delighted that the Defence Minister has accepted my invitation to visit the A&P Tyne yard in Hebburn where the skills and expertise of a first-class workforce helped build the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales aircraft carriers plus the nuclear-powered Astute fleet of submarines.

“We will be working together in making a strong case to get more government orders in our brilliant shipyard.”

Mr Fallon, who resigned as defence secretary just days after being in South Tyneside, gave no guarantees that contracts around multi-billion-pound naval projects would follow.

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However his visit was the first to a shipyard since he unveiled the government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy the previous month.

The strategy is a blueprint for the transformation of the procurement of naval ships and is designed to make the UK’s maritime industry more competitive.

It will also grow the Royal Navy fleet by the 2030s, export British ships overseas, and boost innovation, skills, jobs, and productivity.

A&P Tyne, which employs 300 people, has said it will fully engage with the National Shipbuilding Strategy and capitalise on all additional work opportunities.

In September 2017, A&P Group, which is the UK’s largest provider of ship repair, conversion and marine services, established a new defence division to strengthen its links to the Ministry of Defence.

Bosses aid this would help it pursue contracts for the Type 31e and Type 45 vessels.

No-one from A&P Tyne was available to comment on Mr Andrew’s visit.