Around 150 workers have been transferred to Devonport from Appledore Shipyard as Babcock searches for more work to fill ‘forecasted gap’.

Workers at Appledore Shipyard have been transferred to Plymouth as it faces a ‘forecasted gap’ in work.

Around 150 employees at the shipyard, run by Babcock Marine, have now been transferred to the Devonport yard in Plymouth.

The third Irish naval ship built in Appledore, LÉ William Butler Yeats, is due to commence sea trials early next month, and if successful will then set sail for Ireland.

But its completion has led to a dwindle in the workload, with Babcock unable to confirm any future contracts at this stage.

The Gazette understands Babock has offered to pay expenses for those transferring to Plymouth, but has told workers they could face working there for up to two years.

A Babcock spokesman could not confirm this but said the employer remains ‘firmly committed’ to supporting the workers during the ‘forecasted gap in workload’.

He said: “Around half of the workforce has taken the opportunity to redeploy to our operations at Devonport while we continue to focus our efforts on securing future work for our North Devon facility.”

Torridge leader Jane Whittaker said it was important the council stands behind the yard and supports the skilled workforce it employs.

She has written to MP Geoffrey Cox asking him to bring the matter to Westminster.

She said: “We really need to be sure no-one forgets about Appledore.

“These are really highly-skilled jobs and we have the lowest average pay here so it is a big deal.”

Mr Cox said he was looking into the possibility of holding a further meeting with relevant ministers.

He said: “The Appledore Shipyard is vital to our local economy in Torridge and I have been in regular discussions about the issues it is facing with the ministers concerned.

“The Government is well aware of the current situation, and I will continue to work closely with them, as well as with the local council and with Babcock.”

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