Under-Secretary of State for Defence Guto Bebb has again confirmed that eight Type 26 Frigate will be built on the Clyde, the fourth time the Government have been asked to confirm this in as many months.
Chris Stephens, Shadow SNP Spokesperson for Trade Unions and Workers’ Rights asked:
“Will the Minister confirm that the eight Type 26 frigates will be built on the Clyde? Will he also remove the ban on Royal Navy personnel addressing the all-party parliamentary group on shipbuilding and ship repair on the national shipbuilding strategy?”
Guto Bebb, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, answered:
“I regret that I did not hear the second part of the intervention, but the commitment on the purchase of the eight Type 26s was clear, and I will be on the Clyde on Thursday.
The second element of the strategy is design. It is about taking a new approach to design and construction. We want to challenge outdated naval standards and introduce new ones. In effect, I am repeating the comments of the Chairman of the Defence Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East, but it is about forcing through advances in design, identifying new materials and looking at new manufacturing methods to try to make our shipbuilding industry even more competitive, which is part and parcel of ensuring that we have export markets.”
There’s a lot of misunderstanding and myth circulating about how many ships the BAE shipyards on the Clyde are expecting to build, but what’s the truth?
Recent news that BAE have decided not to bid to assemble the Type 31e Frigate on the Clyde due to an apparent lack of interest has created a stir in Scotland after earlier expectations that the light frigates would be built there.
BAE themselves say that shipbuilding capacity on the Clyde will be maxed out until the mid 2030s while the Ministry of Defence want the first of the new Type 31 Frigates in service by 2023, one of the primary reasons they have decided not to bid as prime contractor for the project, there’s no space on the Clyde to do so if they are to meet the deadline for the first Type 31e to hit the water. BAE say the move will allow them to ‘appropriately support the National Shipbuilding Strategy’ whilst ensuring the delivery of the five Offshore Patrol Vessels and the City class Type 26 frigates currently on contract, ‘to time, budget and to the highest quality standards.’
In a press release BAE say:
“BAE Systems is focused on the manufacture and delivery of the two QE Class carriers, the five River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) and the first three City class Type 26 warships, as well as continuing to develop and upgrade combat management systems on all Royal Navy ships. Taking account our current and future workload, including Type 26, our shipbuilding capacity on the Clyde will be full until the mid 2030s.”
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. Ordering this way allows for changes to specifications and allows for refinements to contracts as working practices evolve and efficiencies are learned.
Eight Type 26 Frigates are to be built in total by their designers BAE, the contract for the second batch will be negotiated in the early 2020s. There are no other yards in the UK to build the Type 26, it’s a BAE product and their only surface shipyards are in Glasgow. The ships are not going anywhere unless the Royal Navy take the incredibly unlikely decision not to replace their frigate fleet.
The UK Government committed to eight advanced anti-submarine warfare ships in its 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). The Type 26 programme currently employs more than 1,200 people in the UK supply chain, with a number of contracts already in place for the manufacture of major equipment for the first three ships.
In total, there are already 33 UK and international companies working in the supply chain to deliver the Type 26 ships – with further announcements to be made shortly.