THE defence minister has praised the firms who helped build Britain's aircraft carriers – just days after 250 jobs were axed at Rosyth. 

Harriett Baldwin urged the Scottish businesses involved in the UK's largest ever warships, including Dunfermline's Forth Marine Textiles, to "toast their achievement".

That's ahead of Thursday's ceremony where HMS Queen Elizabeth will be formally commissioned into the Royal Navy by Her Majesty the Queen.

The congratulations will have a rather hollow ring to it in West Fife following last week's announcement by Babcock that 250 workers from the carriers project would be losing their jobs.

Ms Baldwin said: "On behalf of defence, the government and the whole of the United Kingdom, I would like to thank the hundreds of businesses around the country for the millions of hours they’ve spent equipping our ships in what has been an immense nationwide enterprise.

“Their herculean efforts showcase our great British talent and saw HMS Queen Elizabeth complete her 2017 sea trials with flying colours as she prepares to project our interests right across the world.”

Alongside the sterling efforts of workers in Rosyth and Glasgow, many smaller Scottish companies played starring roles in constructing the 65,000 tonne carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth, and her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, which will sail from Rosyth in 2019.

Forth Marine Textiles was one of those highlighted. Their team of six created 20 containment tents, 100 PVC covers, 187 smoke curtains, and more than 1,000 retaining straps to safeguard the carriers from fire during their assembly.

Managing director Jerry Newbigging said: “There’s a real sense of pleasure and pride being associated with this programme, this expands not only within our company but the wider community, as Dunfermline has a long history with textiles and the shipyard itself.

"To be trusted with a project of this size has been really exciting for our small company and has allowed us to gain some really great recognition.”

Next year the new F-35B Lightning II stealth jets will start flight trials from the ship, and HMS Queen Elizabeth is on track to be fully deployable anywhere in the world by 2021.

Both of the warships are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a partnering relationship between industry and the Ministry of Defence.

The MoD said they aimed to help smaller business secure future contracts through its new Supplier Portal, a dedicated Twitter account to flag opportunities to small and medium sized enterprises and contracts for lower-value, less complex procurements.

In 2015/2016 they invested over £1.5 billion in Scotland, supporting nearly 10,000 full-time jobs, and benefiting local economies.

The carriers were assembled at Rosyth and, with the contract drawing to a close, the unions said last week that the announcement about job losses wasn't a total surprise.

They have called on Babcock to ensure there will be no compulsory redundancies.

CSEU Scotland chair, Gary Cook, said: “At its current capacity the work at Rosyth supports over 3,800 jobs across Fife and delivers £106 million in wages for the Scottish economy – by the end of January those jobs and that value will be reduced. This cannot be the start of a downward spiral.

“First and foremost, achieving these redundancies on a voluntary basis is entirely within Babcock’s gift and it’s the least this employer can do to recognise the massive contribution of the workforce to the delivery of the aircraft carrier programme.”

Two weeks ago Babcock announced a successful first half of the year with a 6.6 per cent rise in revenues to £2.31 billion and a 11.34 per cent rise in pre-tax profits from £163.5m to £181.9m.

Their combined order book had increased to £307bn and new contracts included a £360m deal to become marine Systems Support Partner for the QEC carriers and Type 45 destroyers.