Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced today at the First Sea Lord’s Sea Power conference that HMS Argyll, a Type 23 frigate, will be repurposed as a training facility for apprentices in Glasgow.

This is part of a broader strategy to modernise the Royal Navy’s fleet and expand the UK’s shipbuilding capacity.

In his address, Shapps highlighted the importance of the Multi Role Support Ships (MRSS) programme, which includes the acquisition of up to six new vessels designed to replace the current amphibious fleet. “I am delighted, delighted to announce today that I have given a green light for the acquisition of up to six new Multi Role Support Ships. These will replace all of our current amphibious fleet,” Shapps stated.

To support this expansion, Shapps made clear the need to enhance the UK’s shipbuilding skills and capacity. “And it takes the number of Royal Navy vessels in design, on order or under construction to 28. Which will require a very big expansion in our shipbuilding capacity because I am determined they will be built here in the UK,” he said.

To facilitate this growth, the Ministry of Defence is in negotiations to sell HMS Argyll to BAE Systems. The frigate, which has served well beyond its expected lifespan, will be transformed into a training facility for apprentices.

“To ensure we have the skills needed, we are in negotiations to sell HMS Argyll which has served so brilliantly but, it has to be said, for about twice the lifetime expected, to BAE Systems for them to use as a training facility for apprentices.”

The establishment of a shipbuilding academy in Glasgow utilising HMS Argyll is a significant investment in the future of the UK’s shipbuilding industry. Shapps described the initiative as “a major boost for the sector, a major boost for skills and jobs, and a major boost for Scotland.”

Simon Lister, Managing Director of Naval Ships at BAE Systems, echoed Shapps’ sentiments, highlighting the practical benefits of the initiative. “It is hugely beneficial for our people to understand, connect and apply their expertise in an environment that reflects real life working conditions. HMS Argyll will provide that opportunity and, in tandem with the opening of our Applied Shipbuilding Academy, will allow our workforce to further enhance their existing skills and learn new ones,” Lister said.

BAE Systems addresses the national skills gap in shipbuilding

The shipbuilding industry in Scotland and across the UK faces a significant challenge: a skills gap that threatens to slow work and frustrate schedules. The demand for skilled workers often outpaces the supply, leaving vital positions unfilled and putting pressure on existing workforces.

BAE Systems address national skills gap in shipbuilding

This shortage is not just a local issue but a national concern, impacting the industry’s ability to compete globally and fulfil future defence needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these challenges, introducing unprecedented disruptions. Health and safety restrictions necessary to curb the spread of the virus led to reduced workforce on the shop floor and delays in project timelines. Apprenticeship and training programs faced interruptions, further widening the skills gap.

In response, BAE Systems has made an investment in the future of shipbuilding talent with the creation of the Applied Shipbuilding Academy. Part of a broader £100 million investment aimed at modernising facilities and embracing digital shipbuilding, the £12m academy represents a significant commitment to workforce development.

Construction recently started on the new academy at BAE Systems’ Scotstoun shipyard on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow, just downriver from Govan, you can read more on the academy here.

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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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Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg (@guest_818572)
4 days ago

Well… at least she’s not being scrapped

Ernest (@guest_818696)
4 days ago

No but with HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster to be retired early, that’s one help of a hole in the RN. I think all three ships should have stayed in sevice until other Types avaiable.. I dare say Argentina will be taking an interest in this,

Jonboy (@guest_818575)
4 days ago

Anyone remember the Harbour Training ships that were alongside at Clarence Yard in the 70’s/80’s Think it was HMS Daring plus HMS Russell. Remember getting my Boiler Certificate way back when. If HMS Argyll achieves half of what they did she will have performed her duty “above and beyond” when she pays off. BZ Argyll

Bulkhead (@guest_818598)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonboy

It was Daring, Russell and I’m sure Blackwood it’s self + Blackpool astern of them……..Happy day’s 😎

Tommo (@guest_818625)
4 days ago
Reply to  Bulkhead

Daring ended up in the Bason used to get scan on there as we were refitting on the old DLG London then she went up the trott that was 1980

Dern (@guest_818693)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonboy

Tbf with HMS Bristol retiring Argyll could be a much needed replacement.

ABCRodney (@guest_818587)
4 days ago

Talk about a home coming, she was built at Scotstoun when it was still known as Yarrow 33 years ago.
Chances are the parents of some of these Apprentices built her. I do wonder what exactly they are going be learning, fitting out makes most sense.
Well it’s better than sending her off to Turkey !

Drew murrY
Drew murrY (@guest_818604)
4 days ago

Why don’t they put a recruiting office on her as well ,manned by rn personnel.would be recruits could take a tour through a warship ,even spend overnight on board to give them a sample of life at sea.

Heidfirst (@guest_818612)
4 days ago

I guess there goes the plan to use Bae apprentices to help restore ex-HMS Ambuscade if/when she returns to the Clyde from Pakistan …. (there was discussion about mooring her alongside at Scotstoun before the plan changed to Greenock, I wonder if that is where Bae got the idea from …?)

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_818651)
4 days ago
Reply to  Heidfirst

I’m sure they can do both. With shipyards Govan, scotstoun, rosyth and faslane within an hour of the ships help will be there if needed. Companies may provide materials etc.
letting tourists onto parts of Argyll may be an option as well. An old lynx or seaking for the flight deck
Perhaps I should retrain as a 40 year old shipyard worker

Tom Keane
Tom Keane (@guest_818685)
4 days ago

So only people employed by bae, therefore bae as a whole, will benefit from this?

James Street
James Street (@guest_818757)
3 days ago

Anything that enhances our shipbuilding skills and helps to retain employment on the Clyde is a good thing and must be encouraged and embraced. If we have a demand and cannot fulfil that demand ourselves. Then we have a problem. Good luck to this enterprise.

Mark P
Mark P (@guest_818764)
3 days ago

Although this is very disappointing news that will strech the fleet further, at least she isn’t being scraped and is being put to good work. If Russia/China did do unthinkable, could she be reactivated in theory “obvious with a bit of work as a doubt she weapons now”?

Roger Davies
Roger Davies (@guest_819575)
1 day ago

Need to get rid of the dinosaurs in management before they even try to catch up with the 20th century never mind 21st century.

Paul.P (@guest_819913)
9 minutes ago

Maybe Argyll could be a sales aid for the T23 disposal process. If Babcock just to do a hull lifex and then pass the ships to BAe to fit a 57mm, NS100, Tacticos, replace the Speys with a couple of diesels, keep mushroom farm of Sea Ceptors….put it up for sale for £249m 🙂