Sheffield defence manufacturer Forgemasters' boss Gareth Barker says their thoughts are with Ukraine

The boss of Sheffield defence manufacturer Forgemasters has said their thoughts are with the ‘brave people of the Ukraine’.

Gareth Barker, chief operating officer at the Brightside steel firm, said: “Our thoughts are very much with the brave people of Ukraine as they battle to protect their democracy, but it would be inappropriate at this time to comment on the effects of trade sanctions against Russia, or the wider economic effects of the war in Ukraine.”

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Forgemasters was bought by the Ministry of Defence last summer. It has said it intends to invest £400m in the company over the next 10 years. Up to 50 per cent of the firm’s revenue is from defence manufacturing, including making parts for Royal Navy ships and submarines.

Forgemasters chief operating officer Gareth Barker.

WHY IS THE FOCUS ON BRITISH DEFENCE MANUFACTURERS?

Last week Gareth Stace, director general of trade body, UK Steel, said the war highlighted how the the sector was a ‘crucial defence asset’ that must be self-sufficient in times of crisis.

He also said the Russian invasion would have a ‘significant knock-on effect’ on spiralling energy prices and it was time for government to trigger a plan to tackle them.

Ingots in the furnace at Forgemasters.

He added: “The war in Ukraine yet again highlights how strategically vital the steel sector is to the UK. This conflict, and continuing uncertainty over energy costs, demonstrates that the steel sector needs to be considered of crucial importance and as a national defence asset.

“We take the PM at his word, that Government has a plan for addressing uncompetitive energy prices for sectors like steel and this dreadful conflict highlights the need to enact that plan today to ensure that the UK steel sector can be self-sufficient in steel at times of crisis like now.”

In April last year, The Star revealed Forgemasters was buying a giant 13,000 tonne press for more than £120m - one of the largest investments in steelmaking in the city to make forgings for Royal Navy nuclear submarines.

The deal was supported with a loan from the Ministry of Defence, in a massive vote of confidence in the firm’s capabilities.

The components are being shipped from Mitsubishi Nagasaki Machinery in Japan and will replace an ageing 10,000 tonne main forge press dating back to the 1950s.

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