January 23, 2007 06:38 ET

Unions warn of threat to UK Naval Bases

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 23, 2007) - Unions will today warn that the Government is considering making irreversible cuts to the nation's naval bases which could paralyse the Navy.

Amicus, GMB, TGWU, UCATT, PCS and Prospect which represent thousands of Ministry of Defence employees are calling for the UK's three existing naval bases to be protected.

The unions are being consulted as part of a "Naval Base Review". Amongst the options, the closure of one, two, or all three of the current naval bases is being considered, which the unions say would have disastrous effects on the local communities around the bases, and seriously compromise the Navy's ability to launch task forces in times of conflict. There are currently three naval bases, at Devonport in Plymouth, Portsmouth and Faslane on the Clyde, and they all play a part in ensuring that the UK is capable of putting to sea with one small and two medium sized task forces at any time.

Ian Waddell, Amicus National Officer says

"There are strong military, strategic and economic reasons for having three naval bases and any cuts would seriously weaken our ability to put ships to sea in times of war.

We are worried that the 'Naval Base Review' is really about driving down cost, and that this will lead to the closure of one or more of the UK's naval bases.

The fewer the bases, the easier it would be for a surgical strike, a terrorist attack or a blockade to take the Navy out of action. On top of this, closure of any of the bases would mean disaster for the local economies, which rely on the presence of the Navy and the tens of thousands of servicemen and women and their families."

Unions welcomed the assurances given by Tony Blair on a recent tour of Devonport, that the country could not do without its major bases, but the PM's words do not match the exercise currently being undertaken by civil servants, which explicitly considers the closure of bases as options.

Mark Serwotka of the PCS union said:

"The only way that the country's interests can be maintained is if all three naval bases survive. It is of strategic importance to maintain the flexibility that the three bases give the UK in its fight against Terrorism.

This Government must stop asset stripping its MOD resources, our members within each naval base have both loyalty and technical skills that are required across the whole MOD. This uncertainty undermines the business of Defence and staff morale is at an all time low. We will fight to ensure that the three base option is the only one which proceeds, and to kill off any talk of closures of any of the naval bases.

We urge the communities of Devonport, Portsmouth and the Clyde to work together with us to ensure that this is the outcome of the Naval Base Review."

Contact Information

  • Amicus Press Office
    Ciaran Naidoo
    07768 931 315
    Ian Waddell
    07768 931 269