INCHGREEN Dry Dock has suffered a major blow after losing out on key Ministry of Defence work that would have created hundreds of jobs according to the site's owners.

Bosses from Peel Group and subsidiary company Cammell Laird had promised to revitalise the Greenock facility and boost employment if a bid for a £5 million Royal Navy maintenance contract for aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was successful.

But the UK Government has awarded it to Babcock in Rosyth.

Former shipyard worker Robert Buirds, the man who launched the Save Inchgreen campaign, has now written to Peel chairman John Whittaker and Cammell Laird boss John Syvret about the matter - and called for the Birkenhead shipbuilder to give up control of the site.

Mr Buirds said: "Obviously this is a major setback for Inchgreen and the people of Inverclyde, as you were very bullish on your ambitious plans for Inchgreen based on this award on your flying visit last year.

"Your management of this major Scottish facility has been a disaster from the start and has allowed the facility to deteriorate to the extent that it will take major investment to return to an operational level.

"Public ownership will allow the community to lease the facility to a progressive company or companies and return Inchgreen to a fully operational marine facility for the benefit of the people of Inverclyde."

During a visit to Greenock in May last year, Peel chief executive Mark Whitworth and Mr Syvret said winning the aircraft carrier maintenance work would help to 'bring back hundreds of skilled shipyard jobs' to the area.

Inverclyde Council SNP group leader Chris McEleny is now calling on them to reveal their back-up plans for the UK's largest mainland dry dock following the unsuccessful bid.

Councillor McEleny said: "I think it was always the case that winning carrier work was always far fetched when the infrastructure was already in place at Rosyth. "What we need now is a credible plan that utilises Inchgreen. "Now that the carrier work has been confirmed as going elsewhere there is no plan for what the future of the dry dock looks like. "Between Ferguson's in Port Glasgow and the Garvel Dry Dock in Greenock, we are uniquely placed on the Clyde to have some serious joined-up thinking going forward to create jobs and attract work to the Clyde, and I think that's a job that everyone can get behind supporting."

The Telegraph contacted Peel for a comment but received no response.