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Defence secretary praises BAE Systems workforce during visit to Barrow

Published on: Monday 13th July 2015
Categorised under: Work , BAE Systems, Barrow, Business

The Right Honourable Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, spoke highly of the engineering excellence of Barrow’s workforce as he embarked on a special tour of the third Astute class submarine, Artful.

Mr Fallon visited the site as BAE Systems Submarines prepares for the exit of Artful, which is expected to set sail later this summer.

In addition to climbing on board the submarine, Mr Fallon also visited the Devonshire Dock Hall where the 97 metre long submarines are assembled.

Speaking about his visit Mr Fallon said: "The Astute submarine programme is a key part of our £163bn plan to ensure that our armed forces have the equipment they need.

"Artful will now join Ambush and Astute, helping to keep Britain safe.

“The next four boats are already under construction, securing thousands of jobs and showing our commitment to increase defence spending each year for the rest of the decade."

The defence secretary continued to speak of ongoing international threats ranging from Russian aggression to ISIL, but believes Barrow is the right town to manufacture and deliver the most advanced nuclear deterrents in the world.

He explained: “The work carried out here is vitally important.

“Barrow is the home to our submarine infrastructure.

“It secures the work for thousands of jobs for years to come but more important than the number of jobs is the type of jobs.

“This town is home to the design of these boats which is work that will continue with the nuclear Successor programme.

“It’s a continued vote of confidence in Barrow.”

Rear Admiral Mike Wareham, director of submarines at the Ministry of Defence’s defence equipment and support organisation, believes it is a great day for the town.

He said: “It’s been a fantastic day and it’s fantastic for the area

“I think having the Secretary of State visit is excellent news.

“It shows his ongoing commitment to the programme and the fact that he has visited Barrow is a great indicator of support from the government.

“I’m delighted to be here to represent the Navy.”

During his visit Mr Fallon also met with the submarine’s crew, BAE Systems staff members and apprentices.

Claire Bamber, 22, of Hadley Drive in Barrow, is a dimensional control apprentice and was thrilled to meet the defence secretary.

She said: “I’m really proud.

“We put a lot of effort and our lives into this place and it’s nice to have some recognition for what we do.”

The seven Astute class submarines provide employment for more than 3,700 workers and 400 supply companies across the UK.

With the government pledging commitment to the four Successor boats, employment in Barrow is set to continue and provide a huge boost to the town’s economy.

Barrow and Furness MP, John Woodcock, was delighted by the secretary’s visit.

He said: “Today’s vote of confidence is testament to the hard work and dedication of all those who work in the yard, who have built the most technically advanced submarine the Royal Navy has ever seen.”

Tony Johns, managing director of BAE Systems Submarines in Barrow, is eager to share the yard’s success with the rest of the town.

He said: “We’re really honoured that the Secretary of State for Defence has taken time out his busy diary to see us today - it’s always a great honour for us.

“I’m excited for the submarine to depart over the summer and it’s great that we can share this with our employees and the town.

“The town gets right behind our endeavours and you’ll see that when people line the streets for the exit.”

With thousands of employees building their lives around the submarine programmes, Mr Johns is quick to congratulate the workforce.

He said: “I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has worked on the building of the Astute class submarines.

“The staff should be extremely proud of what they’ve achieved.

“I’m really proud of them and they should be proud of themselves.

“I’m also very grateful.

“People say the reward for one tough assignment is another tough assignment so we need to crack on with the next four boats because the Navy needs them.”

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