Ecologists in Spain have attempted to thwart crucial work to be carried out by experts on HMS Talent in Gibraltar by arguing engineers have no nuclear emergency plan for the repairs. They also complained that the Royal Navy is forcing Gibraltar into becoming “an X port, where the United Kingdom brings its submarines for repair”. The group argued the work they do to nuclear submarines in Gibraltar “puts the population of Campo de Gibraltar at risk”.
They claimed in the UK bringing the nuclear submarines to the Rock it increases the risk of Spain being dragged into a potential war with China or Russia.
The complaints come after Spain became favourites to win an eye-watering £1billion Royal Navy warships contract due to the Brexit delay.
Outraged union leaders are blaming Brexit delays amid reports the contract to build supply vessels for the Royal Navy could go to Spain.
The GMB trade union said industry sources suggested the £1 billion contract for support vessels for the navy’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, could go to the Navantia naval yard in northern Spain.
Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB, said: “If the contracts for these ships go abroad, the Government is basically sticking two fingers up to shipbuilding communities and the entire manufacturing industry in the UK.
“No other government would outsource national security. If it is true this deal is being done because of ministers’ abject failure to sort out Brexit then it’s not just negligent, it is grubby and reeks of self-preservation and putting party politics ahead of people’s livelihoods and communities.
“If this is what the Government is planning, it needs to think again.”
The 35,000-tonne vessels will one day ferry ammunition and food to the Royal Navy’s two giant supercarriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, both of which will be based in Portsmouth.
The Ministry of Defence announced in November that companies from Italy, Spain, Japan and South Korea were in the running for the contract.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We are required, by law, to procure the Fleet Solid Support ships through open international competition. We issued formal tender documents to bidders, including a UK consortium, in late 2018.
“The final decision regarding the winning bid will be made in 2020.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.