By Gavin Williamson, Defence Secretary
This month marks a significant milestone in what is the longest sustained military operation ever undertaken by the UK, the Continuous at Sea Nuclear Deterrent operation.
The 50th anniversary of undertaking continuous patrols at sea is an opportunity to recognise and thank those who have contributed to protecting our country, something which the thousands of workers at Barrow’s great shipyards have been pivotal in.
Barrow-in-Furness has a long and proud history of shipbuilding. Hundreds of merchant ships, submarines and naval vessels have been built on the historical shipyards of the Cumbrian coast, with both HMS Vengeance and HMS Victorious starting life at BAE Systems Maritime in the town, while the newest addition to the fleet, the 7,400tonne Audacious, rolled out of the dockyard more recently.
I would like to pay tribute to the men and women who work at the dockyards here, who play an important part in helping to maintain our nuclear deterrent just as the generations of Royal Navy submariners have done and continue to do to this day.
Since 1969, a Royal Navy ballistic missile submarine has patrolled our country every single day, providing the nation’s deterrent and helping to ensure the UK and our allies remain safe.
Defence is the first duty of the Government. A key element of that is deterrence, which is at the core of the UK’s national security policy.
The threats to the UK and our allies are increasing and the challenges that we face are growing in scale, complexity, concurrency and diversity.
We cannot relax our guard, a fact the Conservatives understand and are working hard to ensure does not happen. But sadly, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party simply do not see the importance of protecting our nation and of the jobs provided by this industry, an issue which was brought to the fore during the Copeland by-election.
In what had been a strong Labour heartland for the past 80 years, the Conservatives and local businesswoman Trudy Harrison seized power in the historic by-election. This, as many on the doorstep agreed at the time, was in no small part due to the Labour leader’s staunch anti-nuclear stance. How could so many who relied on the nuclear industry, at both Sellafield and those who travelled from Copeland to Barrow to work at BAE, vote for a party whose leader held such a view?
The UK’s independent nuclear deterrent will remain essential to our security today, and for as long as the global security situation demands. Barrow-in-Furness and all those who work at BAE are ensuring that carries on.