There are fears over the future of the BAE shipyards in Glasgow after the firm's UK chief executive hinted one of its manufacturing sites could close.
Nigel Whitehead told The Sunday Telegraph that the arms company might "reduce its footprint" after the completion of the two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.
He said: "Part of that might actually be the cessation of manufacturing at one of the sites."
BAE operates three major manufacturing sites in the UK, at Govan and Scotstoun in Glasgow and in Portsmouth. The group employs about 3500 staff across its Glasgow shipyards and nearly 5000 at Portsmouth, although less than half are directly involved in shipbuilding.
An industry insider told the newspaper that the Portsmouth base was believed to be most at risk because of its high numbers of temporary staff. However, Mr Whitehead said the decision on closures had not yet been taken.
"We will be making decisions this year, so we have a number of weeks in which to do that," he said.
Ian Waddell, national officer for shipbuilding at the Unite union, said: "From our point of view we’d rather just have a decision and get on with it.
"There’s clearly a workload gap and even then it’s not clear if there’s enough work to sustain the three yards."
Labour's Jim Murphy MP, the shadow defence secretary, said: "This is worrying for everyone involved. There must be clarity from the UK government over the future of these yards and workforces. Scotland has such a proud shipbuilding history and it should be a part of our future as well.
"The Tory government plans are adding to the worries but there is one certainty which is that the SNP proposals would sink Scottish shipbuilding.
"We know for a fact independence would close the Scottish shipyards. The rest of UK would become a foreign country to Scotland and the UK Royal Navy has not built a warship in a foreign land in living memory."
The news comes after October's collapse of the planned merger between BAE and Airbus company EADS.
The merger would have created the world's biggest defence and aerospace group with 220,000 staff worldwide and combined sales of £60bn.
BAE said it was in contact with the Ministry of Defence as it reviews its shipbuilding future.
It added: "We continue to work closely with the Ministry of Defence to explore all possible options to determine how best to sustain the capability to deliver complex warships in the UK in the future.
"This work is ongoing and we are committed to keeping our employees and trade unions informed as it progresses."
BAE has been coming under pressure from government spending cuts and it is feared there will not be enough work to keep all three sites profitable, with a gap expected between the completion of work on the Queen Elizabeth class carriers and the start of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme for the Royal Navy.
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