Concern has been expressed by the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee that engine production could be taken away from GE Power in Rugby and given to a French firm in Nancy.

The letter, dated the 12th of February 2019 from Chairman Julian Lewis to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, in relation to concerns over future components of the Type 26 frigate states:

“Dear Gavin,

The recent success in selling to Canada the Type 26 frigate is extremely welcome and also a tribute to the efforts of both industry and the Ministry of Defence.

However, this highlights concerns over the future of one of the key components of the Type 26 which is the power conversion equipment currently made at the General Electric Power Conversion facility in Rugby.

As you know, there are proposals by the company to relocate the work, including restrictive classified UK defence work, to Nancy in France. The Rugby site currently designs, engineers and manufactures silent motors for naval fleet vessels, as well as supporting in-service maintenance. You will be aware of the technical advantage of the Type 26 motor, which we understand is the quietest in the world, a critical capability in its anti-submarine role. The consequence of such a move would not only affect jobs, skills and long-term knowledge at Rugby, but would also have national security implications because of the transfer from the UK of capacity for MOD classified work.

We also understand that the Nancy GE facility is not equipped to deal with the electrical installation work necessary to comply with Royal Navy standards on motor noise transmission. In addition, the Rugby facility contains the largest vacuum pressure impregnation (VPI) tank in Europe, which is essential for pressure varnishing of large motor coils. Transferring this facility to Nancy would leave the UK without the future capability to make large engines for naval shipping.

The US Navy’s Future Large Surface Combatant programme and Frigate programme could result in orders in excess of 80 ships over the next 15-20 years as the Rugby motor is the only one

meeting the criteria in the required programme timescales. Again there is a danger that the US Navy will look at other options if the manufacture is moved to France.

The significance of this site was clearly recognised in 2011 when it was bought by GE and the company signed an agreement with the Ministry of Defence that if the company proposed significant reductions to the infrastructure supporting the Royal Navy in the UK, the company would seek the agreement of MOD in advance of any such changes being implemented.

We understand that discussions are taking place between the company and your Department and we hope that agreement to the move will be withheld, in order to stop the transfer of this critical technical capability, as well as preventing the hollowing-out of the UK’s defence industrial capacity.

Yours sincerely,
Julian”

The propulsion system of the RN ships will have a gas turbine and four high speed diesel generators driving two electric motors in a ‘CODLOG’ arrangement, ‘CODLOG’ simply stands for Combined diesel-electric or gas.

In 2012 Rolls Royce redesigned the well known MT30 used in the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers t enable its usage in smaller ships, such as Type 26. It is now known that the vessels will use the MT30. From what I learned at a RINA presentation, BAE believe that some potential customers would prefer to lose a few knots by opting to use cheaper engines. No foreign customers are forthcoming yet however.

Eight Type 26 Frigates are to be built in total with three in the first batch, the contract for the second batch will be negotiated in the early 2020s.

Ordering in batches is common for projects of this size around the world and was last seen with the Royal Navy for the Type 45 Destroyers and recent Offshore Patrol Vessels. The Type 45s first batch order was for three vessels for example.

The Type 26 Frigates will be named Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh and London.

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Knowing our track record would not surprise me.

the protection of british industry and its ability to design, build, and in hope, export outside the u.k. the type 26 is a massive step forward for the R.N, AND THE U.K DEFENCE INDUSTRY.ALL THE U.K NEEDS TO SAY TO THE FRENCH IS; NON,MERCI

Harry Nelson

It’s geeting to the point now where I’m not bothered what bits are built where….. Just get the bloody things finished and into service……

LOL.

I am if this quiet motor is a British tech and its handed to France on a plate. Like god knows what else.

Is it?

Steve10

It will make a sale to the US almost impossible if they move the IP

Steven

That is a mug’s attitude, every conman/cowboy builder in your area must visit you on the regular.

Harry Nelson

Steven I presume the above comment directed at me…… Who says if they build in france they will be completed by conmen and cowboy builders??????? Strange comment, slighty offensive implying I am a mug. You don’t know F$&k all about me so please keep your comments to yourself, when I want your opinion I’ll give you it!

Spyinthesky

You made your comment without asking others for permission so why does Harry not have the same right whatever you think of it’s content?

Nigel Collins

Predicted in-service date for the first of class, 2027
What a bloody joke ?

Nigel Collins

“The schedule announced to Parliament earlier this year calls for HMS Glasgow to be accepted by the Royal Navy in the Summer of 2025 then conduct 18 months of trials and work up, before becoming fully operational by 2027.”
https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/building-hms-glasgow-the-first-type-26-frigate/

Same treacle-like build rate for the Hunter Class the RAN’s variant of the T26. Construction expected to commence in 2020 but first ship won’t be in service until 2027.

Makes the delays with the Hobart Class construction look like efficiency. At least they were able to deliver three ships in 10 years (2009 to 2019). Just as well the RAN is continuing to upgrade the ANZAC class frigates.

type 31 5 years later?!!

Stephen

If we take that attitude with everything we will end up making literally zero for ourselves. We’ve already lost more than enough of our manufacturing industry here in Britain, we can’t afford to lose any more.

4thwatch

Its crazy to let this go. The future of much of warship design will include electic propulsion.

I’m proud of Julian Lewis for spotting this. Usually our politicians let things go because they are plain ignorant. The US on the other hand prevented the sell off of their Ports on security grounds.
Most of our manufacturing has gone including some key businesses.

PROBLEM FOR ME, IS THE PRODUCTION RATE OF THE CLYDE YARDS CONTRACTS AWARDED SHOULD INCLUDE A TARGET COMPLETION DATE AND PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO DELIVER ON TIME. MODULAR BUILD WORK COULD BE SPREAD FURTHER AFIELD, ANYONE ABLE TO PRODUCE SECTIONS SHOULD BE CONTRACTED TO DO SO, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE IN A DOCKYARD. when i left the R.N in 1986, i took work at a local factory. this factory had a heavy steel fabrication section where big steel frames for all manner of major heavy industrial projects, these are options for modular production i don’t believe for one minute… Read more »

Andy

It’s about time that the UK Govt stood up for UK businesses and jobs. I am glad to see that the Chair of the UK defence select committee is telling the MOD to withhold agreement. We should be more supportive of UK industry, otherwise we wont have anything left, see:
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235377

Over 400 signed last week and over 150 so far this week

Zel

I understand that GE is an American multinational that operates worldwide like BA Systems operates worldwide, particularly in North America and Australia.

IKnowNothing

A multinational company is relocating future work from the UK to France. Now if only I could think of any possible reason why they might be thinking of doing that at the present time………….

Andrew

Prob the same reason why the US govt just awarded Wales £500million contract for F35’s maintenance.
‘Mights’ and ‘maybes’ are not ‘will’ and ‘have’ btw.
This project fear you allude to is as amusing as ever.
Clap on the back for yourself there.

IKnowNothing

The F35 contract is tied to long standing political agreements about the work share for the aircraft. No large company in its right mind would touch the UK right now given the huge uncertainty we are caught up in. That doesn’t have to be a pro or anti brexit statement, merely a statement that uncertainty is bad for business planning. How can any large company make a decision to invest time and resources here for potentially decades with so much unknown about our future trade and political arrangements? Far better to place the money into a mainland european nation where… Read more »

SevenSeas

Actually, the support and maintenance contracts were separate to the original build contracts, with bidding process open all and any who thought they would be up to it. The UK bid for the work, and won.

4thwatch

The Problem is that (EU Remainer) ‘group think’ is incapable of seeing the opportunity of exiting the EU and there are many.
BTW GE are heavily entrenched in France and of course are arch rivals of RR who supply the MT30, so there is already an existing conflict which knowing the ruthlessness of GE and the French business practices we would do well to forcefully resist. Unfortunately ‘group think’ would porn their grand mother.
Well done Julian Lewis for your alertness in warning of this coup.

Fedaykin

The problem is that (Brexiteer) group think is incapable of facing up to the reality that Brexit is an utter disaster for the nation and that all the Unicorn promises made during the campaign are not happening….

Unicorn Promises. Ah. Lets add that to all the rest. Lies. Old men. White people. Didn’t know what we were voting for. Peoples vote! Final say! Taking the youngs future. Wanting an “imaginary past” and all the other crap we are hearing. Tell that to the SNP while your at it. Like project fear and the toilet paper put through everyone’s door at taxpayers expense full of Unicorn threats, worries, claims and other bogus nonsense. Strangely the nation didn’t buy it. “Not happening” because as you well know- EU refuses to talk trade til withdrawal agreement is signed and agreed.… Read more »

I can also guess that most if my points will be conveniently ignored. Other remain types on UKDJ have done the same, preferring to stick to the same old failed points.

Do have the last word. You gave no legitimacy.

Andrew

I think you’ll find plenty have. ‘In spite of brexit’ as the BBC would put it. And seeing as there has been no mention by GE re Brexit, your knee jerk reaction is testament to project fear creaping in. ‘In spite of Brexit’ half a billion pound US investment, ‘in spite of brexit’ Bloomberg opens up a billion pound office, ‘in spite of Brexit’ Deutsches bank signs a 25 year lease, ‘in spite of Brexit’ UK tech companies attract £2.5 billion in 2018, ‘in spite of Brexit’ Dyson pumps £200 into the UK for expansion, ‘in spite of Brexit’ foreign… Read more »

Andrew

Correction.

Not GE but

*F35 choose to stay in Wales.

expat

A multination will move work if they believe they can make it more efficiently else where. I was exposed to this during my first redundancy. The company I worked for told us that the German sites were 30% more efficient, when the Germans came over to see how all the work was done they could believe the machines we worked on were from the 1930’s. It was nothing to do with management as the it was a multinational UK owned. It just change to processes and equipment were generally accepted by the German work force, they understood that change to… Read more »

Stephen

Other European countries support their manufacturing industries a lot more than we do. We need to invest in this area with new facilities, new equipment, automation, etc. to increase our productivity and competitiveness and also by having policies to support manufacturing.

expat

Stephen I work in Manufacturing all my life and my role now is to help companies improve. Quite honestly there’s very little the government can do if there’s little appetite for change within the business. There’s very successful manufacturing businesses out there who have no investment from the government and quite frankly don’t want any interference. What I find is there’s people who immediately think productivity means cutting the workforce, they can’t make the link between productivity = cheaper product = more orders = same or growing workforce.

Darren

It’s been happening to Britain for many decades. With manufacturing lost to eu. It is all by design and plan to see Britain emasculated like this. Don’t vote liblabconsnppliad, it’s as simple as that. But carry on voting like that if you want decline!

4thwatch

Brilliant. There has been a deliberate plan to deindustrialise UK. Some of it is an own goal but Brussels gave themselves Interbrew which effectively wrapped up Euro brewing in favour of Belgium.

Anyway can anyone name a Single item of Equipment used by the French Armed forces of British origin? I can’t, but all comers welcome to contribute. Thanks.

Nigel Collins

Let’s hope a modicum of common sense prevails and the work remains here in the UK.
We can design and build the best of the best, then give it away for others to prosper?????????
Start investing more in team UK.

Stephen

Definitely, this is why it isn’t a good idea to sell practically everything to foreign companies.
Countries like France, Japan and Germany realise this and keep certain key industries in their own hands whereas in Britain it seems like literally everything is up for grabs, indeed they won’t be happy until literally every single thing is owned by a foreign company.

Martin

As warships get more complicated it’s enevitable that more foreign content will be produced abroad. US Subamrines are reliant on steel as an example for the UK to build submarines. In terms of industrial military cooperation France is possibly our closest ally obviously. But I would rather get all the ships than worry needlessly about every bit of content being from the UK. It’s seems silly to worry about part of the electric motor coming from France being a problem when the we would be happy that about a third of the ships AAM missile is built in France and… Read more »

Shane

Part of the electric motor??? That “part” is over 80 tonnes

4thwatch

So what militarywise do the French buy off us? No I didnt think so.

Geoffrey Roach

Let’s not forget that R R have been supplying kit for the D D 51’s since the 1980’s. The world has shrunk. Having said that I would love to see a consolidation and then expansion of all work that can be done in the U K and that means almost anything. However we leave Europe we will need the skill of every politician, boss, worker and apprentice to make a dream come true. Once out we need to put Europe behind us politically and get on with being at the forefront of technological global trade. People are looking around at… Read more »

Sean

Just make it clear to GE, if they try to seamove the work abroad they both lose the contract and are barred from all future defence contracts on national security grounds.

Andy

That’s what I’d do, and I think the defence committee is saying that in a more subtle way

Agree Sean. If the electric propulsion was designed in the UK using MOD and taxpayers money. The R+D for type 26 was British taxpayer funded. Then yes they should lose the contract and be banned from MOD contracts. Simple. This is British ingenuity and design and should remain in the UK. The French can try and design their own military tech instead of pinching from anyone and everyone.

4thwatch

GE France what have they ever done for us?

4thwatch

Remember that GE gas turbines are the principal drive unit of larger French Navy Ships. This is a crude attempt by GE to interfer with RR Marine propulsion systems.
Believe me the USA would declare a national security issue and stop this in its tracks!
GE are obviously attempting to get their systems into Australian and Canadian Type 26 Frigates at Rolls Royce expense. GE are past masters at the dirty tricks playbook.

Whilst I am still a fence sitter on the Brexit issue, the fact remains that the world in general and the UK in particular with respect to Europe, has integrated its economies, manufacturing processes and supply chains to the point where any talk of unravelling it all will be a guaranteed lose-lose for everyone. The UK cannot pull up the drawbridge and act as Fortress Britain waving a Trident at all around us. However, and having said all that, the British can do just about anything and in principle build just about everything. we have given away too much(including the… Read more »

We are far more integrated than France or Germany. The vote economically was about the UK managing its own interests in the world, or about continuing to be part of a protectionist scheme to protect German and France.

GWM

This is a strategic issue as our nuclear subs will move to electric motors in future as well instead of mechanical coupling,the Dreadnought class is all ready incorporating this so looking the ability to design and build large quiet electric motors is mad.

Like Hell! We have to remember, we are dealing with decision makers who most likely weren’t born before 1975? That being the case, they simply don’t understand national capability and pride. Basically, they are people in grey suits who simply listen only to companies that quote the lowest prices. National preference does not come into the equation. The mindsets will have to change if the UK is to regain engineering excellence post Brexit.

4thwatch

Absolutely correct. Try selling to the French, etc. That’s why we have a 90bn GBP trade deficit.
We are permeated in high places with people who are devoid of patriotism.

Spot on 4th watch!!

Them and far too many others I’m sad to say.

Pride, prestige and patriotism almost offensive to some it seems.

Really British Shop in Muswell Hill and the Nelsons Column PC farce spring to mind.

4thwatch

I am sick and tired of the French. They buy zilch from us and are definately trying to steal our business/industrial mantle in ever direction they can. And yet we have traitor MP’s who are more French than British trying to prevent Brexit.

4thwatch

It needs telling as it is. Well done Julian Lewis.

expat

But British people also don’t buy British, the fact is we love German cars, bosch dishwashers etc. Ironically it was the pre 1975’s who abandoned British products in favour of foreign made goods and the reason why there’s little choice today.

Do believe it was people who were born before 1975 who lead to the majority of decline in British Engineering. Arguably people born post-1975 who’ve driven a lot of the growth in the areas of engineering at which Britain excels. Tereasa May, Hammond, Boris, Rees-Mogg, Farage, Corbyn. All in prominent political roles currently or recent years, all born pre-1975 and are ultimately in the position to make financial decisions. Apologies if I sound snappish. But its my millennial generation who are often driving innovation, technological/engineering development, etc from the ground level. Also daft to say post-1975 don’t understand national pride.… Read more »

I’m not suggesting post-1975’s are not patriotic, however since we joined the Common Market / EU, the UK has seen huge investment in transport and energy industries from EU members,( and other none EU) due to the commission’s laws. However, it’s my perception that the proportion has been far from balanced? It’s that mindset that needs to change, as France, in particular, appears to be very protective of their domestic industries regardless of EU mandates?

Darren

Wrong. The never had it so good baby (1930s/ lates 30s to late 50s) boomers and backwards management strikes etc, etc declined us. Old story. But nothing to do with people born in the 1970s onwards.

expat

Agree Darren. back in the 70s and 80s there was a chance to buy British but that generation decided a Japanese and German was what they wanted. The very same people are now harping on about the decline of UK manufacturing.

Its the new generation of engineers who have embraced automation, robotics and other productivity improvements.

4thwatch

To some extent you are right. However there were other problems. Management was poor and lacking in many skills. The workforce was extremely volatile and resistant to change. Added to this was the difficulty of trying to actually run a business. Business needs finance to start up and introduce new products. I am laying the blame on the Labour Government of 1966 for the attempted destruction of Capital/Finance. They introduced penal taxation. Income tax became punative. Capital gains and estate duties made it nearly impossible to transfer businesses to the next generation and thousands closed down as a result. Meanwhile… Read more »

Somebody once commented here that T45 wasn’t as noisy as ‘rumours’ said. But that person never posted again. Does anybody know anything about this? Lacking something like Disqus you can’t reliable ask questions of others and keep threads of discussion going on this site.

Russian Navy mate. He accidentally shot himself in the head shortly after posting!

All I will say his ‘opinion’ ran contrary to what I ‘know’.

Jonathan

Unfortunately our government is dogmatically welded to Neolieral ideas and will let he markets decide the future of this nation. I’m afraid unless we start getting politics back to the concensus politics of one nation conservatives and Keynesian focused Labour Party we will either end up.

1) sold to the highest bidder and serfs to a number of sovereign men
2) living in some form of communist state.

We must get our politicians to focus on the needs on Britain and not the needs of the super rich/markets or political dogma.

Spyinthesky

This is all based on à failed industrial concept that freeing everything up makes you an attractive place for investment. Too often selling our assets, the most latest being Arm, are actually described as investment. Well one of its creators Sir Herman Hauser ironically born German, considered it anything but and a great sadness for Britain and he is right. In this case a facility that GE thought worth buying only 7 years ago is now seemingly surplus to its needs though the technology developed there seems anything but. This gives the impression to me it’s aquisition of technology that… Read more »

In any situation like, this commercial or industrial, the French government are always involved at some level pulling strings.

4thwatch

Rule one never trust the French. I learnt this from an uncle with French background!!! Especially true with Micron as president.

Surely, technology that has been theorised, designed, developed, engineered, manufactured, tested, modified, proven and then ordered (paid for) , using British Tax payer money should stay uk based? WTAF, why would this even be able to be to be considered. This is a first for me to coment publicly on anything, I’m just fed up of yet another story of the uk giving up ingenuity for others to prosper, more skilled manufacturing jobs potentialy gone in a world where more automation is guaranteed, where will the jobs for actual humans come from, are we buying up foreign firms and bringing… Read more »

dadsarmy

This is totally ridiculous, a bad joke.

dadsarmy

I mean the barmy idea of the engine work going to France, not the article!

dadsarmy

At this rate some bright spark will sell of the carriers to Italy for a £1 billion the pair, the T45s to France as surface escorts for the CdeG for a spanking half billion, and when complete, the T26s to Germany to upgrade its navy.

Remind me again – how many T26 did France buy?

Is this a vision of Global Britain? An empty shell?

How many dunderheids does it take to make such a stupid decision? Answer – all of them.

captain P Wash.

The Type 26’s are actually being built using parts from many Foreign Companies. Even the Spanish.

4thwatch

What British items does a comparable French Frigate have on board? Didn’t think so.

Peter Shaw

We just need to nationalise the activity at Rugby and then give it to a company like Rolls-Royce to run. That way Rolls-Royce can integrate that activity with its other marine work. The UK government should pay for that to happen as it isn’t something Rolls-Royce would necessarily do otherwise. It’s critical for national infrastructure and security and France is not our closest partner indeed they are actually a competitor.

4thwatch

Buy it and sell cheap to Rolls Royce. The perfect fit.

4thwatch

ARM was the canary in the coal mine. This was absolutely a disaster for UK for it to be sold off for short term gain. Authorised by arrogant politico Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Yes. It was an utter disaster. It wouldn’t have happened if ARM was French or German. I strongly expect that despite their ‘government phobia’ that Reaction Engines Ltd will go to……..

4thwatch

Its a tragedy that so much potential has and is being lost on a regular basis thanks to the overly zealous laissez-faire attitude of Hammond etc. Some businesses really are key and have a bright future, ‘if only’. They didn’t let the banks who created the mess go under did they? They didnt let Rolls Royce go under either, infact they are the ones who could bring a lot to this particular party.

Darren

This type of thing has been happening for years and was a massive trend during the Blair years. The model works like this. The UK makes most of it’s living from financial service sector and most people become public sector employed. Past governments before the 2007/08 economic meltdown, were quite happy to see UK manufacturing killed. What usually happened was that the engineering and design stayed here in the UK (important), but the manufacturing side of things went not to the far east but much to Germany France Netherlands etc. Did we see this happen the other way around? This… Read more »

4thwatch

I am extremely concerned that the Mini plants in Oxford are closing down for a month over the 29/3/2019. Has anyone in Government had assurances they wont remove plant and equipment and take it to the remainder of the EU?
Don’t suppose the Business Minister has bothered, he’s a die hard Remainer. It his watch and so I’m doubly concerned. Hope my concerns are groundless.

Let us not forget that G.E. signed a Deed Poll when it acquired the Converteam business requiring it to get the approval of the MOD if it wanted to close the Rugby site or move production. It is therefore in the power of the Government to STOP this proposed closure. It should also be pointed out that the motor was indeed largely funded by British taxpayers via R&D before General Electric even acquired the business in 2011, so they are in effect parasites living off the IP of others G.E. have benefited in the sum of billions of pounds in… Read more »

expat

I don’t necessarily agree with in this particular case, it appears GE made a commitment but to pretend this is unique to the UK is flawed. The French have also suffered there fair share of take over and closure, big stories back in 2012 ArcelorMittal closed profitable steel plants, their were tyre factory closures as I recall. Ford has announce its closing a gearbox factory recently. We forget of the huge acquisition that BAe have made in the US to make them one of the largest defence companies on the planet. Rolls purchased MTU and Alison engines. UK companies acquire… Read more »

expat

We forget BAe made large acquisition in the US to become one of the largest defence companies. Rolls bought MTU and Alison Engines. So we can’t have our cake and eat it. However this case is a bit of a concern because GE did make commitments. The French have also suffered there fair share of take over and closure, big stories back in 2012 ArcelorMittal closed profitable steel plants, their were tyre factory closures as I recall. Ford has announce its closing a gearbox factory recently. To think the UK is somehow unique in the global economy is frankly flawed.… Read more »

4thwatch

I have just read the latest offering from UK Column which is very revealing but complex. This is warning us of the New Euroland moves on defence and how it Impacts on Rolls Royce and BAE. Some of this is truely alarming as it suggests we are being secretly inducted into Eurodefence by back door and who knows what. There are certinly a web of agreements and pacts being made that the UK as a whole is unaware of. This grab by GE France of this unique UK production unit in the face of agreemnts or undertakings made cannot be… Read more »