The Chancellor of the Exchequer has called Falmouth Docks the “best in the world” during a visit to announce a new £15 million defence contract for A&P Falmouth.

George Osborne announced the contract, along with plans for further devolution of power to the Duchy and a better south west rail network, as he toured the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mount’s Bay on Monday morning.

As he outlined Ministry of Defence plans to fit out four new RFA tankers, creating 16 new roles in the process, Mr Osborne said: “This is the best place in the world to do it. There is a brilliant workforce, and a brilliant company, providing great ships for the navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

“The work secures not just 350 existing jobs but new apprenticeships, so it’s an investment in the future of Falmouth.”

Peter Child, managing director of A&P Falmouth, said the contract was worth “up to £50 million to the docks over four years”, and that the company would be taking on ten new people next week, with another six apprentices set to join in the summer.

Work starts in December when the first ship arrives to be fitted with armaments and communications, prior to sea trials, and the ships will then fall under the docks’ RFA maintenance contract which runs to 2018.

Mr Child said: “It gives us much more security in our forward order book.

“It’s great to win because it’s a national competition; we beat every other shipyard in the UK. 
He added: “It’s great for the supply chain in Cornwall. It’s good for the docks, good for Falmouth, and good for Cornwall.”

Sarah Newton, Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth, said: “This announcement is excellent news for A&P and secures quality jobs in Falmouth for years to come. 

“It speaks volumes for A&P’s skilled workforce and management who always deliver on time and to budget, and I will continue to do everything I can to continue to promote Falmouth as our fifth naval port.”

With 100 days to go to the general election, Mr Osborne also discussed the issue of Cornish devolution, and said he wanted “more decisions that affect Cornwall to be taken in Cornwall,” as part of a long term economic plan for the south west.

He added that part of this was putting “local transport needs to the fore” with a local rail franchise for Devon and Cornwall.

“Here in Falmouth are great examples of real successful businesses,” he said, “and with better transport links we can build on that success.”

When asked about the closure of Visit Cornwall due to budget cuts, Mr Osborne returned to his claims of a “long term economic plan for the south west, built on a track record of creating more jobs.”

He said he wanted to move away from a “lower wage economy” by making sure that skilled jobs are available, and people “get the jobs and skills they need.”

In a speech earlier in the day, the Mr Osborne had said he wanted to support the tourism sector, and pledged a £10 million package as part of the Coastal Communities Fund to support communities in the south west and bring an estimated 75,000 visitors to the region.