Monday, July 17, 2006

Lyme Bay

Lyme Bay towed from Tyne - how did Swan Hunter mess up?

The 16,160 tonne RFA Lyme Bay was towed from the River Tyne today without cheers, fanfare, or ceremony, because she is the very first ship to leave the famous Swan Hunter yard unfinished. The contract with the Ministry of Defence has ran massively over budget, costs have escalated from 322 million pounds to almost 600 million pounds, and the ship is almost a year late. Clearly miffed at the obvious waste, in terms of money and time, the MOD has decided to tow the ship to Bae Systems on the River Clyde to finish the work there.

The move could signal the end to significant shipbuilding on the River Tyne after Swan Hunter's owner Jaap Kroese applied for a licence to break ships, a practice more common in third world countries rather than developed western nations. Initially Kroese faced problems in securing this contract and it required some fierce lobbying by North-East MPs to ensure that one ship from the total order would be built on the Tyne.

The contract has been bedevilled by stoppages and walkouts, and when Kroese saw the costs escalating he brought in Polish labour to try and arrest the rise in wage costs, predictably this move caused further stoppages by the British contingent of his workforce. Now the 145 year old shipyard is shedding around 200 jobs.

Some of those who are being laid off live in South Shields and I was speaking with them over the weekend, their tales of "customs and practice" at Swan Hunters were enough to make your toe nails curl up! They alleged that the management had no control over the workforce, they alleged that timekeeping was rather lapse and poorly controlled, they further alleged that lots of other "extra mural acivities" were pursued by skilled workers from the yard (involving small projects around Tyneside, South Shields, and even public house refurbishments using Swan Hunter materials and labour), they further alleged that management knew of some of this work.

I have used the term allege because the men were not willing/able to substantiate or confirm their allegations for fear of upsetting former colleagues. However, I know them well enough to suspect that they are not fabricating their story and they have nothing to gain personally from airing their views, but they are annoyed at the loss of this ship and possibly the loss of shipbuilding at the yard.

If you have worked at Swan Hunters, or know someone who works there, please get in touch. These stories and rumours leave us all asking who was at fault, the workforce, the management, or both?


The Shields Gazette
The Guardian
The Evening Chronicle

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I worked at Swan Hunter on 3 occassions especially the Largs and Lyme Bay, and had involvement with the vessels built in Glasgow (the Mounts and Cardigan Bay) and I can tell you that Nu Labour, Tony Bliar and the Nu Labour Scottish Mafia have stitched Swan Hunter up between them.

Here is a bit of the back ground to the project so beleive what you want, but don't believe anything printed by Zoe Hughes of the Chronicle, Kevin Jones so called Labour MP for Durham, John Reid, Tony Blair and least of all the MOD. Everyone who worked at Swans knew the MOD were going to take away the Lyme Bay last year Government wouldn't let them as it would effect the local elections, and they have chosen to take it away as it is the West Minster recess so no MP's to be asked akward questions. Labour is dead and burried in the North East and it has been replaced with a sleaze ridden sess pit called Nu Labour. Blair doesn't care what happens to Swans they know they have lost the next election, but Blair and Reid and probably Kevan Jones have new jobs on the board of directors of BAE systems as soon as the English electorate throw Blair and his sleazy party out on their arses!!! Read on I intend to send this out to Newsnight, the Politics Show, and national newspaper to see if any of them will investigate further:

MOD contract
MOD wanted 2 only vessels (the same as the “Rotterdam” a vessel built for the Dutch Navy)
When Swan Hunter won the contract BAE told the Government that they would have to pay people off because they didn’t win the contract, so the MOD stumped up for another 2 vessels which were never originally budgeted for, which immediately added another £160m to the project budget.

Swan Hunter Costs
Total Cost - £309m minus the £160m for 2 vessels leaves £149m
Out of this £149 Million Swan Hunter was awarded £60m as the Lead Yard to cover the design and any technical queries that BAE raised.
This left £89m which was to purchase all the free issue equipment for all four vessels such as engines, thrusters, electrical equipment, valves, etc. Including spare parts for all equipment and warranty costs.

MOD top up contracts
The MOD ward additional payments to Swan Hunter as they were running out money but out of these top up payments the MOD insisted that Swan Hunters pay the following costs:

PA Consultants Cost (Requested by MOD) – This is a favoured consultancy group used extensively on government contracts – including the ID card scheme. At one time PA consultants were all staying in a local 5 star hotel & travelling home every weekend by first class travel. It was estimated that each consultant cost in the region of £1000 per day to the project

BAE Management Cost (Requested by MOD) – The MOD insisted that BAE management was put in place to “assist Swan Hunter” with Largs Bay, the Project manager left to work on another project and all of the other BAE personnel eventually returned to Glasgow as they were contributing very little to the work on Largs Bay. During their stay at Swan Hunter these individuals had hotels, travel, flats, expenses all paid for, and were contracted to the project at between £500 and £1500 per day. Most of these engineers all received bonuses and new cars whilst working on the project.

BAE Systems Costs
When Swan Hunter won the
During construction BAE had two major fires
During Launch Mounts Bay came off the Slipway and across the river Clyde and damaged the Hull and Thrusters.
BAE lost £500k worth of equipment in their stores
During Sea Trials BAE lost an anchor
Mounts Bay was delivered to the MOD in November 2005 unfinished and it is still unfinished. Estimates say it will take another £20m to finish which is to come out of a re-fit budget so it won’t show as being over budget against BAE Systems.
MOD, and sources locally in Portsmouth say it is a like a 20 year old ship and not fit for purpose.
The vessel vibrates violently when the engines are run. This could be to main deck supports not being fitted by BAE, one such support was totally missed out of the boiler room and was discovered when a panel which should have been fitted to the support couldn’t be as the support was missing.
Even though BAE’s vessel Mounts Bay was late and not complete, BAE’s senior management all received new cars and bonuses.

BAE told the MOD that they could finish Mounts Bay before Swan Hunter would finish Largs Bay so Swan Hunter was told to slow down and give BAE every assistance to get Mounts Bay ready for Sea Trials.
Delays to delivery of Largs Bay were mainly attributable to problems with the cooling system to the engines. The cooling systems was designed by the MOD as they didn’t want a smoke stack like the Rotterdam. The failure of the cooling system caused river water to be sucked into the main engines which resulted in the engines having to be totally stripped down and rebuilt.

What the MOD’s independent Inspectors think of Largs Bay Built By Swan Hunter:
Swan Hunters vessel Largs was inspected by the MOD’s independent inspection group and the two inspectors stated it was the best vessel they had ever inspected

BAE’s Record
BAE are being investigated by the MOD’s fraud squad for payments to an Arab Prince and to the Chilean dictator General Pinochet
BAE have been accused by the MOD’s select committee of being responsible for 90% of the £3bn defence budget over spend.
BAE have 3 vessels that were ordered by the Brunei Government but they have refused to take delivery because the workmanship is so bad. These vessels have been alongside for 2 years and are unlikely to be handed over to the Brunei Government.

MPs & Unions
When Swan Hunters Closed down last time there was a campaign to Save Our Swans – No such campaign this time
Kevan Jones – Went to BAE Systems to talk about the project after which he critisised Swan Hunter in the House of Commons and national and local press, and yet he didn’t bother to visit Swan Hunter which is less than 20 miles from his constituency to get Swan Hunter’s side of the story. It was only after several requests by Tommy Brennan of the GMB did Mr. Jones attend the site to have a look around, and yet he refused to acknowledge that the vessel built by Swan Hunter was a first class ship and refused to back Swan Hunter. Local MPs should be fighting to keep jobs in the area not close down shipyards. It should be noted that Kevan Jones has also visited Shipyards in Norway and in Gibraltar but he never visited Swan Hunter which is on his door step, at least not until he was pressured into doing so by the local GMB union. After all why would he? There wasn’t anything in it for him was there. No all expenses paid visit, no offer of a job with the company after his political career was over.
You should also note that Mr. Jones has also undertaken work for another of the Governments consultants (he did declare it), the consultancy does work for the Government ID card scheme, therefore it isn’t surprising that Mr. Jones is in favour of the introduction of ID cards.
Local MP (Nick Brown) not seen at sight for years not since he and Geoff Hoon mentioned in the House of Commons how New Labour had re-opened Swan Hunter that the Tories had closed
Tommy Brennan the Area GMB rep has not seen nor commented on the closure of the yard he has left that to the Swan Hunter Shop Steward (Tommy Brennan big New Labour Supporter)

Tony Blair and John Reid Support of BAE Systems
Tony Blair and John Reid both travelled to Saudi Arabia prior to the Olympic Bid in Singapore to try and win £4bn of defence contracts for BAE systems. The Saudi Government said they would consider the bid if
a)British Airways would recommence flights to Saudi
b)All Saudi dissidents living in the UK were returned to Saudi
c)All investigations into BAE’s dealings with a Saudi Prince were dropped

Lord Drayson – (Lord Small Pox) The man who is the mouth piece of the MOD Lord Drayson was made a Lifetime Peer by Tony Blair – and has in the past given New Labour £1m in contributions, and has also won a single source contract for £32m contract to supply small pox vaccinations.

Why has BAE got Lyme Bay and why have they won a major share of the Aircraft Carrier contract why?
Reason’s why:
Dr. John Reid (was defence secretary) – Glasgow
Ian McCarntey (New Labour Chairman) – Glasgow
Gordon Brown (Chancellor) - Edinburgh
Des Brown (Current Defence Minister) – Glasgow
The Lyme Bay has been removed from Swan Hunter to
a)Protect jobs at BAE
b)To tarnish the reputation of the Swan Hunter so they wouldn’t be a serious competitor for BAE Systems

The main MOD players
The main person brought in to complete the project was Tony Graham, he can be contacted at the MOD’s office in Bristol.
When he came on to the project he told all of the Swan Hunter management that if they got Largs Bay out on sea trials on time then that would bring good publicity to the company and the project and ensure that he had the power to get more money to complete the project. He has reneged on this commitment.

James Forbes and Kevin Murray are also interesting persons to question as to why Largs Bay has been removed from Swan Hunter. Both these “gentlemen” are contactable through the MOD Bristol Office.

Completion of Lyme Bay
Swan Hunters asked for another £50 million pounds to complete the project, the MOD and the Government have refused. Yet BAE will get the £50m plus another £30m for managing the completion of Lyme Bay this is not value for the tax payers money, why hasn’t anyone challenged the MOD or the Government on this?

Taking away of Lyme Bay is a Smoke Screen

Lyme Bay is being taking away from Swan Hunters to project jobs and New Labour Votes in Scotland.
The Government, MOD and BAE systems are complisate in closing Swan Hunter down to ensure there is less competition for BAE in the future and that jobs are secured in Glasgow and that they will continue to vote for New Labour. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kevan Jones, John Reid, Des Brown or even Tony Blair end up with a job working for BAE are some point in the future.

If you really want to get the real story to this sad affair, call the following and start putting them on the spot and see what sort of New Labour spin they put on it.

Kevan Jones – Labour MP for Durham (What’s his angle)
Nick Brown – Labour MP for Wallsend (Why hasn’t he had anything to say about Kevan Jones’s public criticism of a yard in his constituency?)
Tony Blair – where is his support for North East Industry?
Tony Graham MOD Procurement – Ask him about Mounts Bay currently in Portsmouth unable to sale as it is a shambles and yet the MOD took delivery and paid out bonuses as it was supposed to be complete, and now another £20m of public money is coming form a fit out budget so the MOD can’t be seen to have accepted a vessel that is a mess
Lord Drayson – Ask him about his peerage he paid for and what makes him qualified to say how the LSD(A) project was run, how can he be critical of Swan Hunter when he has had very little involvement with the project.

In the face of it, it looks like another shipyard to close in the North East and no one cares outside of the North East region least of all New Labour, but there many other stories that could be unearthed if someone in the media dug a little deeper and started put some of people mentioned above on the spot and asked them to explain how they arrived at the conclusion that it was the cheapest option to close Swan Hunter and give more work to BAE when they have not built a vessel on time, within budget or to an acceptable quality. If you care about not letting New Labour and Tony Blairs cronies getting away with more back door deals you would investigate this story further as there is definitely is a much bigger story waiting to be uncovered.

The timing of the towing away of Lyme bay was chosen to have the least amount of embarrassment to the local MP’s the Government and New Labour, is it is during the Parliamentary summer recess. The Government even gagged Swan Hunters management by saying that they wouldn’t get the money that is due to them if they mentioned the towing away of Lyme to the media, yet they have been threatening to tow the vessel away since early 2005.
I am unable to provide verification to substantiate these comments from this poster, if anyonels with connections to Swan Hunter, BAE, or the MOD can help out, I would be most grateful.

It'a shame that the paoster is Anonymous but I can understand why he/she may want to protect their identity.
Can I please encourage the above poster (Anonymous) to send me an email, the address is in the left hand side bar.
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