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MoD insists price not met

Ministers accused over timing of ship deal suspension

Impression of Type 31 frigateUK ministers were accused of burying bad news by suspending a frigate building plan as parliament goes into its summer recess.

The Ministry of Defence had planned to order five Type 31e frigates for delivery by 2023 on top of the eight Type 26s currently on the books of the Glasgow yards.

But the plan was suspended because neither bidder could meet the Ministry of Defence’s price cap.

An initial batch of five Type 31e Frigates was to be completed by 2023 for export. A second, more advanced version, would be ordered for the Royal Navy to replace the ageing and troubled Type 26 frigates.

Some of the work for the Arrowhead vessel was destined for Ferguson Marine on the Clyde, with support work at Rosyth.

For the Leander option, BAE Systems on the Clyde was partnering Cammell Laird to build the vessels in Merseyside, while BAE’s Glasgow yards focus on the Type 26 frigates.

SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald said the suspension was ‘utterly shocking‘ and as they come on the very last day of parliament before recess are ‘deeply cynical even for this untrustworthy government.’

He added: ‘’This has deeply serious consequences for our naval defence capabilities and the future of the shipbuilding across the UK .

“The MoD now has questions to answer about the disarray of their naval capabilities.

‘”Time after time the Tories make claims about shipbuilding being safe in their hands only for the workforces to be hammered by u turns – lies and broken promises.

‘”The Scottish Tories need to wake up to the threats to our shipbuilding industry from their own incompetent government  and stop dismissing SNP concerns as ‘ scare mongering’ as they do every time I raise them in parliament.”

Scottish Labour MP for Glasgow North East Paul Sweeney said: “It’s clear the MoD price target was unrealistic without putting in place the certainty of the orders being placed with a given consortium, so they could invest and be match-fit to build the ship at that price.

“The industry deserves better than for this story to be sneaked out on the day before recess. It’s disappointing that the Secretary of State did not choose to inform the house.

“Just as we have seen with the Fleet Solid Support ships the Government is failing to support our industry and provide the reassurance needed for our shipbuilding industry to invest to be world class. 

“We have a huge opportunity to achieve that with Type 26 being built on the Clyde and Type 31e, yet their adherence to free-market dogma above all else is squandering it; going back to the bad old days of insecure jobs and lack of investment that plagued our shipyards through the 1990s.”

Body blow for communities says union

Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer & CSEU maritime chairman, said: “This is a real body blow to many shipbuilding workers and their families the length and breadth of the UK.

“Some are already seeing significant redundancies as the Carrier programme runs down, while others are in shipyards with a distinct lack of future orders meaning they will see nothing but a gloomy future ahead.

“Depending on which consortium would have been successful, these ships potentially could have brought work in Scotland on the Clyde and at Rosyth, to yards in Devon and Cornwall, to Liverpool, Belfast and potentially other areas.

“We have previously had the disappointment of the cancellation of the world class Frigate factory on the Clyde, the reduction from 13 Type 26 Frigates down to eight –  then the promise of the other five being replaced with five Type 31e’s –  only for this now to be paused due to insufficient bids and competition.

“Is our sovereign defence capability this Government’s priority, or treasury budget setting?

“The renaissance in shipbuilding and the steady drumbeat of orders rhetoric from this Government are proving to be hollow words as far as our members are concerned.

“Add to this the ill thought out government decision to put the three Fleet Solid Support ships out to international tender, particularly given the shambles over Brexit, and it all adds up to a view within shipbuilding and steel communities that this Government cares little for their futures.” 

 



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