The propulsion system order secures the future of the the General Electric site in Rugby.
It is understood that the order for the second batch of five motors has safeguarded 250 jobs.
Earlier in the year we reported that a letter was sent from Defence Committee Chairman Julian Lewis to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, in relation to concerns over the build location for future components of the Type 26 frigate. You can read that here.
During a recent debate in Westminster Hall on defence procurement, further concerns were expressed in national security terms regarding the potential move.
Steve Kerr, a worker General Electric for 25 years and a union convenor for the union, said in the committee session:
John Spellar, Member of Parliament for Warley, asked:
“If it is UK eyes only, it would, of its essence, be compromised if that work were moved to France?”
“Yes. This is why we cannot understand GE’s philosophy. They said, “It’s only the total package that is UK eyes only—if we cut it up into small work packages, it is not top-secret,” but they are going to put the whole lot of the equipment together, and it becomes a top-secret piece of equipment.”
Union ‘Unite’, one of the key players in the fight against the potential closure said:
“If it had not been for the tenacity of Unite’s shop stewards and our members then we could have been looking at confirmation that GE’s Rugby site would close and its work shipped abroad. Instead this world class workforce, whose skills and expertise has built motors which power all the Royal Navy’s warships, can look forward to working on the second batch of Type 26 Frigates.
Unite’s priority is now to reduce the number of potential redundancies at the site and secure its long-term future. We urge the government to build on today’s announcement and ensure vital skills and knowledge are not lost for a generation by working with us to ensure the site has a pipeline of work for years to come.
With news that two of the international bidders for the Navy’s solid support ships have withdrawn, this must mean guaranteeing that these new ships are built in the UK, powered by motors from the UK and made with UK steel. Anything less would be a betrayal of the UK’s global status as a leader in shipbuilding and manufacturing and the communities these industries sustain.”
Eight Type 26 Frigates are to be built in total with three in the first batch.
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.