Serco, one of the largest outsourcing companies in the world, has announced it has been awarded the maintenance contract for Britain’s nuclear warheads, worth over £1.5 billion. It has “won” public sector contracts worth £2.9 billion since January and expects another £1 billion to be announced shortly.
If the continued privatisation of Britain’s nuclear deterrent makes you nervous, consider Serco’s other interests. It manages the Atomic Weapons Establishment along with Lockheed Martin and Jacobs. This is the most advanced research, design and production centre in the world.
Serco also manages the fleet of over 100 ships that enables the Royal Navy to access naval bases in Britain – Faslane, Portsmouth and Devonport. It supplies tugs, pilots, stores, fuel, munitions and passenger services to the Royal Navy. It also provides facilities and information systems to the Science and Technology Laboratory, the Ministry of Defence’s research centre, and has a £400 million contract to rationalise the Laboratory’s estate – selling it off in other words. And who manages Britain’s military presence in Gibraltar? Serco.
Provision of engineering and maintenance to the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force and logistical support to Royal Air Force bases are all run by Serco. Military satellite communication, RAF Fylingdales, the US base at Menwith Hill – again Serco.
The compamy also trains helicopter pilots, advises on safety for the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines, and even manages the Cabinet Office’s Emergency Planning College, the government training centre for crisis management and emergency planning.
Surprised at the extent of privatised influence in Britain’s defences? In fact, the British state has used privateers for hundreds of years from Elizabeth I’s era, with private companies occupying Africa and India. ■