Government commits to Glasgow

Warship orders give 20-year lifeline to Clyde yards

type-26-combat-shipGlasgow’s shipyards were given a 20-year lifeline by the UK government today after confirmation that eight vessels will be built at the BAE Systems facilities on the Clyde.

The company said the first steel will be cut on the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Global Combat Ships next summer, subject to final contract negotiations with the Ministry of Defence.

The UK Government committed to eight advanced anti-submarine warfare ships in its 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and has so far invested £1.9 billion in the programme.

During a visit to the Govan shipyard Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “Backed by Britain’s rising Defence budget, the Type 26 Programme will deliver a new generation of cutting-edge warships for our Royal Navy at best value for taxpayers.

“The UK government’s commitment today will secure hundreds of high-skilled shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde for at least two decades and hundreds more in the supply chain across Britain.”

Ian King, chief executive, BAE Systems, said: “Today’s announcement secures a strong foundation for the next two decades of shipbuilding at our facilities in Scotland.  It is a vote of confidence in our employees’ capabilities in the design, construction, integration and commissioning of warships.”

Ruth Davidson (photo by Terry Murden)
Ruth Davidson (photo by Terry Murden)

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “Today’s announcement is great news for Clyde shipbuilding, Scottish manufacturing and the wider Glasgow and Scottish economies.

“This order keeps the Clyde yards in work until 2035, safeguarding 6,000 jobs.

“The UK Government originally promised 13 vessels, but that order has now been increased to 18 ships with 5 OPVs being added to the Type 26 and Type 31 Frigates.

“Nicola Sturgeon has often used the Clyde yards as a political football – not least in May’s Scottish election.

“But it is worth noting that all this work is as a direct result of staying part of the United Kingdom and – if Scotland had voted for independence – these orders would have been placed elsewhere with a Scottish Government unable to match them.”

Brendan O’Hara MP, the SNP’s Defence spokesperson, said: “I’m obviously very pleased that the UK Government has at last come forward with a date for “cutting steel” on the Type-26 Frigate programme. It is something the SNP has been keeping up the pressure on the UK Government to do for the past few months.

“This project has been delayed for far too long already and the uncertainty surrounding the start of the project, amid rumours of a shortage of money at the MoD was causing serious concern among the workers.

“Today’s announcement therefore, confirming that all eight Type-26 Frigates are to be built in Glasgow is very welcome and is a massive tribute to the level of skilled worker that still exists in Glasgow’s shipyards.

“Before the 2014 independence referendum we were of course promised that there would be thirteen of the Type-26s built on the Clyde, so I would caution the UK Government against being too self-congratulatory today, as all they have done today is fulfil the promise they made last year; the one that replaced the promise they broke the year before.

“When announcing the cut from 13 to 8 Type-26’s, the then Prime Minister David Cameron assured the workers at BAE in Glasgow that there would be five General Purpose Frigates ordered to make up the shortfall. We now need to ensure that the commitment to building those five GPF is kept and that they are all built on the Clyde.”

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Manufacturing contracts are already in place for the procurement of major equipment for the first three ships, supporting progress to the full manufacturing programme in Glasgow.

BAE Systems is also under contract to manufacture the Maritime Indirect Fire System, including its 5-inch 62 cailbre Mk 45 gun, for the first three Type 26 ships and the MOD has announced a contract with MBDA to deliver the Sea Ceptor self-defence missile system for the fleet.

To date there are 27 companies in the supply chain working with BAE Systems to deliver the Type 26 ships, with manufacturing of the ships’ air weapons handling systems, gas turbines, and electric propulsion motor and drive systems underway across the UK.

The Type 26 Global Combat Ship will be a world-class anti-submarine warfare ship and will replace the Type 23 frigates. Globally deployable, it will be capable of undertaking a wide range of roles from high intensity warfare to humanitarian assistance, either operating independently or as part of a task group.

Today’s announcement provides BAE Systems and the UK Government with the confidence to continue to progress export campaigns for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship with other navies around the world with similar requirements, including Canada and Australia.

Plans are also on track to finalise a contract to build two further Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), which the Government committed to in the SDSR, providing continuous warship production in Glasgow through to the Type 26 programme.

The first three River Class OPVs are already under construction at BAE Systems’ facilities in Glasgow. Construction of first of class, Forth, began in October 2014, second of class, Medwat, began in June 2015 while Trent began in October 2015.

The OPV design builds on the Royal Navy’s existing River Class ships and variants are already in service in Brazil and Thailand. Engineers at BAE Systems have modified the design to meet the requirements of the Royal Navy in support of UK interests both at home and abroad. The new River Class OPVs will be globally deployable and capable of ocean patrol.

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