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British Industrial History

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Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd (VSEL).

In 1897, Vickers and Sons bought the Barrow Shipbuilding Company and its Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Co, becoming Vickers, Sons and Maxim. The shipyard at Barrow became the Naval Construction Yard.

In 1911 the company was renamed Vickers Limited

1927 The company became Vickers-Armstrongs after a merger with Armstrong Whitworth. The latter's shipyard at High Walker on the River Tyne became the "Naval Yard".

In 1955 the name of the shipbuilding division changed to Vickers-Armstrongs (Shipbuilders).

1968 The name changed again to Vickers Limited Shipbuilding Group.

1977 The Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act 1977 saw nationalisation into British Shipbuilders.

1982 "Vickers Shipbuilding is to build a 120 million covered yard at Barrow to build Trident submarines - if talks with the Department of Industry and the Ministry of Defence were successful."[1]

1986 Vickers was the first shipyard of this group to return to the private sector. It was sold together with Cammell Laird in March 1986 to an employee led company, VSEL Consortium. The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange on 1986-07-31.

In 1994 VSEL was subject to two takeover proposals, one from GEC and the other from British Aerospace (BAe). VSEL was willing to participate in a merger with a larger company to reduce its exposure to cycles in warship production, particularly following the "Options for Change" defence review following the end of the Cold War. Both bids were referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) which issued its conclusions and advice to government in May 1995. BAe's bid was supported, while the MMC concluded (with 2 of 22 members dissenting) that GEC's bid was likely to "operate against the public interest". In many ways it was British Aerospace who was the most likely partner, with extensive capabilities in naval systems (see BAeSEMA), but no shipbuilding capabilities of its own. GEC already owned Yarrow and Co Ltd as well the naval systems businesses of Plessey Co and Ferranti.

1995 GEC's bid was approved and accepted by VSEL. Following the purchase VSEL became Marconi Marine (VSEL), part of GEC-Marconi.

1999 With the merger of BAe and Marconi Electronic Systems, VSEL passed to the resulting company, BAE Systems as part of BAE Systems Marine.

2003 it became a separate division known as BAE Systems Submarines when BAE Systems split its ship and submarine building operations.

This was renamed BAE Systems Submarine Solutions in January 2007.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1982/03/18

[1] Wikipedia