The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded £3.2bn worth of contracts to maintain and repair the country's warships and submarines – in a move that will secure 7,500 jobs.

Babcock, which manages Her Majesty's Naval Bases at Devonport and Clyde, has been awarded a £2.6bn ($4.2bn, €3.3bn) contract, while BAE Systems, which manages Portsmouth Naval Base, has been awarded a £600m contract.

The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who made the announcement, said the move will secure 7,500 jobs – 500 positions at Clyde Naval Base, up to 4,000 jobs at Devonport Naval Base for Babcock, and more than 2,000 BAE Systems jobs at Portsmouth.

"This huge investment in our naval bases will directly sustain more than 7,500 jobs and skills across the UK and ensure that the Royal Navy's fleet of 56 warships and submarines are in the best possible condition and available for operations," said Fallon.

"This is the second biggest defence contract placed by this government and reflects our commitment to giving our armed forces what they need to keep Britain safe."

The MoD said the naval bases in the UK play a vital role in the defence of this country and in the economic well-being of the regions in which they are located.

But Labour's shadow defence secretary criticised the timing of the announcement, arguing that it was "cynical".

"Labour fully supports the role played by the defence industry in creating jobs, promoting British exports and sustaining excellence in design and manufacturing," said Vernon Coaker.

"The defence industry makes a hugely significant contribution to our economy."

"David Cameron's botched procurement plans caused uncertainty for industry and defence workers across the country.

"Workers at Devonport, Faslane and Portsmouth will welcome the fact that existing and previously proposed contracts will continue there.

"But what we need are long term decisions based on the country's defence needs, not cynically-timed announcements and made-up news for political ends."