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 We want to challenge outdated naval standards and introduce new ones.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.


  1. Great news to see that 8 T26 are confirmed – once we get into the 2030’s the T45’s will becoming end of life and we can have another 5-8 T26’s ordered and upgrade all forkful spectrum activities.

    Would really like to see a better radar on these and the Artisan move to the T31 fleet, but they are looking to be a real game changer for the UK I believe.

    Personally I think we T31 should be a shortened version of the T26 hull and be configured for ASW instead of such a big beast of a ship – I am also concerned at how we intend to disable or sink a sub once/if these vessels actually find one – doesn’t seem to me that they have the munitions to conduct offensive activities but I could be wrong (perhaps Gunbusters can help out with this knowledge?)

    I would like to see us have this planned now in some sort of forecast – but accept that politicians probably don’t want to do that in case it becomes fixed in peoples minds that these will be built in Scotland.

    • Unfortunately until someone comes out with the final selected T31 vessel we wont know what it will have.
      If it is fitted with active sonar and a helo I would expect a modest outfit of torpedo and ASM missiles for the helo. I doubt that torpedo tubes will be fitted. They cost to much for what little benefit they provide.

    • it’s nothing more than a SOP TO THE SNP and unions. i for one think the type 31 is a smokescreen for something that won’t happen.

    • The Type 42 was in service for almost 40 years, why would be decommission the Type 45 after just 20? I suspect they will be upgraded in 2030 but expect the final one to be decommissioned in the mid to late 40’s

  2. Just for clarity the Babcock Type 31 bid includes the Ferguson yard on the Clyde. Cammell Laird have the dry dock at Greenock. Either way there will be a political angle that at least part of the T31 will be built on the Clyde.

    • Wads – and that is the bit I neither understand or with which I agree. The Scots have done very well so far, deservedly so, but the rest of the UK should now benefit as well. Why should 8% of the UK population get a near 80% of all UK surface naval shipbuilding?
      Just because the SNP are gobbing off again should not be in any way a deciding factor in where future ships are built. We should build, within the context of skill bases, where the output benefits of taxpayer money are now best served. And given the way Scotland has already benefited its now time for other regions.

        • UKDEFJ, I greatly appreciate all the work you do through this website, but do you really need to pick up on this “Type 26 Clyde guarantee” story so often. Mr Stephens represents the Glasgow South West constituency, which covers Govan, and through a quick google search I can see that he is a trade unionist. Neither of these make it surprising that he is looking out for the economic interests of Glasgow South West.

          I see comments on here fairly often along the lines of the above “I love the Scots as much as anyone, but they can’t have everything”. As far as I see things, this is a meaningless statement. Glasgow has a shipbuilding heritage to rival that of any city on earth. Why is it that in Britain we see this, not as a competitive advantage and the expected standard of things, but as something which we should be grateful for. Given this heritage, I would fully expect – *particularly* given the never-ending “efficiency” drives in defence spending/procurement/production over the last few decades – that the Clyde be building the vast majority of the UK’s surface fleet. Just along a similar vein, the town of Barrow has been building submarines for how long – 100 years? 130 years? It is not through luck or charity that that legacy still stands today.

          I believe it is true that Scots get a greater proportion of government spending per head of population than any other region in the UK. This is unfair and should be addressed and re-balanced. However, I also think it is true (or used to be?) that defence spending per head was lower in Scotland. What is the truth here? Can anyone shed light on reality? It may very well be the case that we “shouldn’t expect everything”, but I’ve never seen evidence offered that this is indeed the case. I’m sure those of us who would like the union to prosper once again would like to see this tedious argument move forward a bit.

          The second half of Mr Stephens’ question, which the Government under-secretary did not address, seems a more interesting point to pick up on.

          More generally, like many of you I know, I remain very skeptical of the entire Type 31e concept.

      • Do we really need to? Off the top of my head:

        QE blocks were built all round the UK
        Astute is not built in Scotland
        Successor will not be built in Scotland
        Typhoon is not built in Scotland
        The 15% of 3,000 of the F35 will not be in Scotland
        AFV’s weren’t and aren’t built in Scotland
        The L115A3 wasn’t built in Scotland
        Plenty more not built in Scotland

        The MOD is not in Scotland
        The Admiralty is not in Scotland
        Navy Command is not in Scotland
        RAF HQ Air Command is not in Scotland
        Army HQ is not in Scotland
        RUSI is not in Scotland
        GCHQ is not in Scotland
        Plenty more not in Scotland

        All we get is a few ships.

        • People aren’t complaining that Scotland gets work dadsarmy, they’re complaining that work thay was promised to other British shipyards is now bring given to Scottish shipyards to appease the SNP.

          • Sure Lewis, but all 13 Type 26 WERE promised to the Clyde, and for those that knew, it was 8 “full” T26 i.e. anti-sub, and 5 GPFF T26. The build pencilled in to start after the last T45 (didn’t quite work out that way!) using the existing skills and workers. So in this case they were indeed (and logically) promised to the Clyde, not elsewhere.

            It wasn’t until an overall majority SNP Government was elected in 2011 the Referednum could go ahead, during the minority SNP Government of 2007-11 the unionist parties blocked the Ref. Famously Wendy Alexander said in 2008 “Bring it on”, and was then removed as the leader of the Labour party in Scotland. The T26 program itself was started long ago, and the BAE TOBA was agreed in 2009 – 2 years before the SNP were elected with a majority.

            And any political angles afterwards weren’t to appease the SNP, they would have been to try to forestall a YES vote – i.e. appease, as such, those who were NOT the SNP!

    • these alleged submissions venator, stellar systems, bae, e.t.c all look fine and dandy, but the cost of these ideas aren’t disclosed will they be delivered under budget? NO WAY nothing else ever has been.


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