On a brisk morning in Glasgow, the future of British naval shipbuilding took tangible form for me as BAE Systems offered me a rare glimpse into the construction of the new shipbuilding hall that promises to significantly increase the capabilities and capacity of shipbuilding in Scotland and the UK.

While not yet complete, the structure’s formidable outline and the ambition it embodies mark a significant milestone in the yard’s history.

The image below shows how it will look.

How the hall will look.

I previously spoke to Paul Sweeney, Glasgow Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) and former BAE shipyard employee, who told me that the facility is expected to be very impressive and will dominate the Glasgow Skyline.

Sweeney said, “This new hall will probably become the largest building by enclosed volume in Glasgow, if not Scotland, and will make a dramatic impact on the Clydeside skyline. I hope that the competitive advantages it brings will help to reassert Glasgow’s global reputation for having shipbuilding capabilities that are of the highest quality”.

The Govan shipyard, despite its rich heritage, has long faced the challenge of building ships longer than 75 metres under cover—a constraint that has historically limited its operational capabilities. Alan Nicholson detailed the journey towards overcoming this hurdle, telling us, “We currently have an old setup, which isn’t great in the Scottish environment… So we looked at a number of different options and how to improve that situation.”

The solution emerged in the form of the new shipbuilding hall, envisioned to house the assembly of at least two ships simultaneously under cover. This development is a response to operational challenges and also a stride towards modernising the yard to secure future orders after the Type 26 Frigate project winds down.

As of the media day, the focus was on the next stage of construction: the metal framework that will support the roof. The project’s scale and complexity are evident in the meticulous planning and execution of each phase. The upcoming installation of the metal framework is a literal and metaphorical support structure for the UK’s shipbuilding future.

The new hall’s design, approximately 81 metres wide, 170 metres long, and 49 metres high at the ridge line, represents a pretty big leap in capability and capacity. It allows for indoor construction, protecting projects from the elements and facilitating year-round productivity—a considerable advantage given Scotland’s unpredictable weather.

Indicative Visualisation of Proposed Ship Building Assembly Hall

The site as of today.

 

Moreover, the facility is poised to adopt improved shipbuilding techniques and provide enhanced construction access, alongside dedicated, state-of-the-art office and amenities accommodation. “These accommodation points… are what generates the benefit,” explained Alan, highlighting the impact of the project on efficiency and worker welfare by having what workers need to do their work close to where they’re working.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_809984)
2 months ago

Given that any new large ships will almost certainly be built in the new hall, will the old hall be available for smaller ships? 75m would be fine for OPVs, especially fishery protection, and cover quite a lot of foreign orders like those corvettes they were going to build for Ukraine.
I understand the halls will be used for steel cutting etc but would it still be possible to build ships?

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_810185)
2 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Well probably not as they aren’t ship building halls. They are SBOH (Ship Block & Outfitting Halls), which is where the blocks are put together before being moved into the main assembly hall. There are 3 bays and a block is assembled in each, then they are moved in sequence into the Assembly Hall and joined up till the hull is complete. The steel fabrication is done in the fabrication sheds. If you look at the photo with the labels it will all make sense left to right from small fabricated sub units to Block and outfitting Assembly and then… Read more »

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_810256)
2 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Oh, so the outside bit is just acting as the frigate factory for the moment, that makes sense.

Apoplectix
Apoplectix (@guest_809988)
2 months ago

Whilst it’s great news that BAE have pulled their finger out at last, it seems limiting that the build hall is only 170m long considering the current chinese destroyers are 180m long. So any new destroyers or ships we build can’t exceed or even match those from other countries. Unless they build them with the hall doors open.

Meatloaf
Meatloaf (@guest_809989)
2 months ago
Reply to  Apoplectix

If extra length becomes a requirement guessing there is another 40 odd meters where the hall could be extended if necessary

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_810025)
2 months ago
Reply to  Apoplectix

Well maybe can’t exceed or match those of China and possibly a few others perhaps but T-26 is already a big ship and exceeds most foreign designs of the type and new destroyers will likely be similarly positioned in comparison to others. I do not see Britain wanting to design Destroyers the size of the Chinese which is looking to try to compete more with US Cruisers and have different priorities to UK designed vessels. I’m not convinced we need to build anything that exceeds these Halls but the ships will still be built in sections just from front to… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_810187)
2 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Not so sure about that as the CEO is after the MRSS builds and I don’t see them being small.
But there are still options as they could either block build on Slipway 1 which is still there and 216m long. Or build in 2 halves and join up in a dry dock ! Half the Bay class and 5 T45’s were launched down that slipway.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_810253)
2 months ago

I’d dearly love HMG to squeeze a couple more type 26s out of the programme.
BAE systems reported the programme was sped up so each hull would take 5 years instead of a frankly ludicrous 7 to complete. There must therefore be capacity to get a couple more built before switching to type 83 destroyer construction.

DH
DH (@guest_810308)
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Sounds reasonable to me, Mr Bell, but shan’t be holding me breath while the Clowns 🤡 are in turmoil. 🙄🙃🕳️.

RB
RB (@guest_810672)
2 months ago

Speculation in the newspapers that BAES could land an order for 5 T26’s for Norway, but only if the RN agrees to hand over an early build unit (Belfast?) to meet a 2029 delivery date.

David Barry
David Barry (@guest_810897)
2 months ago
Reply to  RB

Do you have a link for that?

David Barry
David Barry (@guest_810905)
2 months ago

Just heard Forces News this week and the Defence Procurement Minister has said we are moving away from IOC and FOC and now under the new procurement system both T26 and T31 will be in service very soon…???

This current Government must be forced to read Orwell on application to join!

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_822170)
24 days ago

the UMK SHOULD BE LOOKING TO PURCHASE AND DEVELOP THE OLD balloon shipyard in Sunderland to reopen it as a designated yard for warship building