Concern over future of shipyard
Speculation is mounting that BAE Systems is set to close one of its Glasgow shipyards following the announcement that five cranes are to be decommissioned, according to Scotland's Deputy First Minister.
Nicola Sturgeon has urged the defence contractor to "come clean" over its plans for the yard and its 1,500 strong workforce amid speculation that it "doesn't have a future".
BAE said last year that it is considering closing one of its major shipyards in a move that could threaten more than 1,000 jobs.
The future of its three major bases - one at Portsmouth and two in Glasgow, at Govan and Scotstoun - has been under threat after BAE launched a review of its maritime operations.
BAE has reportedly said the decommissioning of the five cranes is unrelated to the maritime review.
Speaking in her capacity as MSP for Govan, Ms Sturgeon said: "I am hugely concerned about the future of Govan shipyard. There's mounting speculation in the yard that it doesn't have a future.
"BAE has to come clean. The workforce has been through the mill too many times before. It would be outrageous if Govan doesn't have a future.
"There is a duty on the company to make clear its intentions. I would hope the decision to take down the cranes would be put on hold until a decision on the future of the yards is made. I don't want to see Govan shipyard close."
In a statement to The Herald newspaper, a BAE spokesman said: "Clydeport is removing dockside portal cranes which are no longer fit for purpose. Work is expected to last 18 months."
He said the review of maritime operations is a "separate issue".
"This is the removal of decommissioned cranes. There is no significance to the timing," he added.
In a financial statement published in August, BAE Systems, which employs about 88,200 staff globally, said the outlook for its UK defence business remains stable despite continued pressure on Government budgets.
Its UK business was underpinned by work on two huge aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales. It also handed over two new attack submarines, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush.
Labour's Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran said: "The Govan yard is a vital source of employment for people in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley and it is essential that we secure its long-term future.
"I will be asking to meet with BAE next week to get to the bottom of these reports."