1,700 jobs secure on Clyde
£3.7bn frigate boost for struggling Scots economy
Scotland’s struggling economy has been handed a £3.7 billion boost with the awarding of a contract to build a new generation of warships for the Royal Navy.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon announced that the first three Type 26 frigates will be built on the Clyde by BAE Systems.
The deal confirms a pledge made two years ago and will secure 1,700 skilled shipbuilding jobs in Scotland and a similar number in the supply chain across Britain until 2035.
It also comes days before new data on the economy which may confirm that Scotland has slipped into recession.
Sir Michael said: “The Type 26 Frigate is a cutting-edge warship, combining the expertise of the British shipbuilding industry with the excellence of the Royal Navy.
“We will cut steel on the first ship later this month – a hugely significant milestone that delivers on our commitment to maintain our global naval power. These ships will be a force to be reckoned with, there to protect our powerful new carriers and helping keep British interests safe across the world.”
He said the announcement is part of a rising defence budget and a £178bn Equipment Plan, adding that the Type 26 programme “will bring vast economic benefits” to Scotland and the wider UK.
“The contract is structured to ensure value for taxpayers’ money and, importantly, now designed to protect them from extra bills from project overrun. The investment will secure hundreds of skilled jobs at BAE Systems on the Clyde for the next twenty years, and thousands of jobs in the supply chain across Britain.”
The frigates will “protect the nations’ nuclear deterrent”, said Sir Michael, ” and the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, the first of which – HMS Queen Elizabeth – took to sea from Rosyth last week.
The ships specialise in anti-submarine warfare, protecting the UK’s overseas territories and interests across the globe. The flexible design will allow the capabilities to be adapted throughout its lifespan to counter future threats.
Sir Michael said the deal also reaffirms the commitment made by the Government in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review to build eight Type 26 ships.
The contract for the second batch of five ships is expected to be negotiated in the early 2020s, paving the way to sustain further jobs in Scotland and across the wider supply chain “for many years to come”, he said.
“The Type 26 programme will secure the long term future of the Scottish shipbuilding industry.”
Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said: “For an island nation, dependent on maritime trade, a strong Royal Navy is essential for our national security and economic prosperity.
“Today there are over 500 submarines in the world operated by 40 navies. As one of the quietest and most potent submarine-hunters of any Navy, the Type 26 will have a crucial role to play to protect the nuclear deterrent and our two new aircraft carriers.
“Although designed to fight and win in the most demanding scenarios, they will also work alongside our international partners to protect and promote the United Kingdom’s interests around the world.”
The Type 26 will be the most advanced anti-submarine warfare ship in its class around the world. The MOD is exploring potential export opportunities where there is strong interest from international customers.
The MOD spent £1.5bn with Scottish businesses last year and supports 9,700 jobs across Scotland. Aside from the Queen Elizabeth Carriers being built in Rosyth, Offshore Patrol Vessels are under construction in Govan and Scotstoun.
Ross Murdoch GMB national officer and interim CSEU chairman, said: “It is fantastic news that the defence secretary has finally confirmed and signed the contract for the first batch of Type 26 Frigates.
“Whilst we understand that it was always going to be announced in batches we look forward to future confirmation on the other five ships.
“It is a particularly significant announcement in terms of the timing given the Queen Elizabeth carrier going out from Rosyth last week to commence sea trials, as it once again reinforces the world class reputation of our UK shipyard workers.
“This is tremendous news for GMB members in Scotland in particular, but also in the wider context of the supply chain across the UK.”
Scottish Labour’s economy spokesman Jackie Baillie said: “This is a welcome announcement, which will secure thousands of jobs and deliver a significant boost for the local economy.
“The Clyde shipyard is a historic centre of UK shipbuilding and its world class workforce must be protected and maintained.
“Scottish Labour has always fought in the best interests of Scottish shipbuilding and we will continue to do everything possible to ensure it remains at the centre of UK shipbuilding for many years to come.
“The means holding the Tory government to promises it has made in the past, and standing against the threat of Scottish independence that would put our shipyards at risk.
“The UK and Scottish governments need an industrial strategy that invests in defence and commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde to increase opportunities for shipbuilding in the future.”