The government’s lack of clear commitment to shipbuilding could kill off the industry in Britain, defence workers warned.
Unite, which represents shipyard workers, said ministers’ lack of solid support for maintaining a British base for naval construction is creating anxiety in shipbuilding communities.
The union expressed particular fear over the future of shipbuilding in Appledore, North Devon, where the shipyard has lost a significant works contract to Italian firm Fincantier, and in Belfast, where government hesitation over agreeing new construction contracts is causing widespread concern.
The union also criticised the Tories’ “obsession” with offshoring shipbuilding despite Britain having the capacity for such work .
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Our future capability to build for the Royal Navy in UK shipyards hangs by a thread, so it is imperative that the government makes support for these yards a keystone of any post-Brexit industrial strategy.
“Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and Business Secretary Greg Clark must now wake up and smell the coffee.
“They must act now to defend UK yards and what’s left of any defence and wider industrial strategy.
“Otherwise, the future of these yards and all those who work at them, alongside thousands more jobs in the UK-wide supply chain, could be shipwrecked.”
Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer, responsible for the Appledore works, has secured a meeting with local Tory MP Geoffrey Cox as well as the owners of the site, Babcock, and local council leaders to discuss securing the future of work there.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a consistent opponent of the shipyard closures, launched the Build it in Britain campaign earlier this year over the threats to more than 6,500 shipbuilding jobs.
The Ministry of Defence did not respond to requests for comment.