A National Audit Office report entitled ‘Improving the performance of major equipment contracts‘ has shed some light on major projects, including the Type 26 Frigate.
The NAO claim it sought to identify the causes, and explain the consequences, of cost overruns and schedule delays in the contracts for some of the most significant equipment programmes and to examine how the Ministry of Defence and industry teams are working to improve delivery.
Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, was quoted as saying:
“Too often, the MoD doesn’t deliver its major equipment contracts as planned due to a combination of supplier underperformance, a failure of the MoD and suppliers to get to grips with the technical complexity of projects, and short-term solutions to affordability problems. To ensure defence contracts deliver value to taxpayers, the MoD must follow through on its efforts to embed good practice in its relationship with suppliers. Strong leadership and skilled staff are needed to translate good intentions into results that deliver real benefits for the armed forces and value to taxpayers.”
Anyway, on to the relevant points…
The report explained that delays in the preliminary stages of the Type 26 frigate had originally meant that the first ship (HMS Glasgow) would to enter service in 2026.
“In addition, delays in the preliminary stages of the Type 26 frigate, and an acceptance of a more realistic timetable for the Type 31e Frigate as part of the competition process, mean that the first ships of each class are forecast to start to enter service in 2026 and 2027 respectively. This requires the predecessor Type 23 to undergo upgrade work to stay in service until the new ships are available.”
The report then goes on to explain that the team behind Type 26 were able to bring the in-service date forward by 12 months:
“The Type 26 programme team reported in March 2021 that it forecasts achieving the in-service date for ship one 12 months sooner than forecast at the time of going on contract.”
Adding some background the report states:
“When the Type 26 frigate programme team received approval to enter the ‘assessment’ phase in 2010, it expected to gain approval for manufacture in 2013. Approval for the assessment phase was delayed until March 2010. The estimated cost increased from £8.2 billion in 2009 to £12.1 billion by 2012. Contributory factors included an increase in the planned number of ships, from 10 in 2009 to 13 in 2012, and the need to re-plan in 2010 to reflect a change in requirement for an increased level of capability for the class as a whole.”