The US Navy has selected Sheffield Forgemasters to build critical components for its new generation of Columbia-class nuclear missile submarines, giving a much-needed boost to Britain’s beleaguered steel industry.
Winning the $30m contract to provide castings – thought to be for use in the new vessels’ weapons launch systems – will ease the pressure on the Forgemasters, which was forced to cut 100 staff from its 750-strong workforce at the start of the year.
The collapse in the price of oil has seen orders from the offshore oil and gas industries dry up for Forgemasters. The parent company’s most recent accounts show revenue plunged to £72.8m in 2015 from £122.4m the year before, resulting in a £7.6m loss.
However, the new contract for the submarines, which will replace the US Navy’s current Ohio-class vessels, is an important win for Forgemasters, and builds on its decades of supplying components for the Royal Navy, as well as earlier US ships.