BARROW'S shipyard workers are trying their 'damnedest' to deliver the next generations of nuclear submarines amid criticism of delays.

Union boss Ian Waddell, paid tribute to the thousands of workers building the Dreadnought and Astute programmes of nuclear submarines at Barrow's shipyard.

He spoke at the at of parliament's Defence Committee after one MP criticised delays in delivery of Astute submarines.

Conservative MP Mark Francois said: "The Astute programme is not an encouraging precursor to the Dreadnought programme because if Dreadnought goes anything like Astute we'll lose continuity of the continuous at sea deterrent.

"That's why the committee is particularly concerned.

"Some of these boats are going to be delivered years later than planned."

But Mr Waddell hit back, saying: "All I know is those 8,000 people in Barrow are doing their absolute damnedest to deliver the boats on time, on schedule and at reasonable cost."

Mr Waddell, the general secretary, Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, said the shipyard needed to be guaranteed long-term orders to deliver more investment and jobs.

He said: "What you need is continuity of workforce, continuity of investment and continuity of the pipeline to keep that drum beat of work going and Barrow should be a lesson to all of us as to how long these problems will go on if you get that wrong."

A report recently revealed that completion of a Barrow-built submarine took more than two years longer than planned, amid concern over major defence projects in Britain.

A review by the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that just eight major Ministry of Defence (MoD) programmes had between them racked up combined delays of more than 20 years.

The report said the fifth Barrow-built Astute attack submarine was delayed by 25 months, with a 'significant' increase in costs since the start of the contract.

The Ministry of Defence has insisted the Dreadnought programme is on track.