Despite alarming headlines, the Type 26 frigates have not been cancelled or “indefinitely postponed”.

The claims come amid news that Type 26 Frigate contract will not be signed until it offers “value for money”.

MPs had heard claims the project to build eight Type 26 frigates on the Clyde had been delayed due to the Ministry of Defence’s attempts to save money. It is understood the five Type 31 frigates are unaffected by this.

Manufacturing of the Type 26s was initially expected to start in 2016, confirmation of when the work will begin has still to be announced but we’re told that it’s anticipated that the steel will be cut for the first Type 26 in Q4 of 2017.

Unions have also insisted that there will be no redundancies as a result of uncertainty over the Type 26 build timetable on the Clyde.

Duncan McPhee from Unite said the contract was still guaranteed.

“There is guarantees. The main issue is the timetable, which is causing us the real problems and that has to be sorted out as soon as possible.”

Mr McPhee also added that BAE bosses were in negotiations with officials at the MoD to resolve the timetable issues:

“It means for jobs that we have the workforce geared up for this programme and that workforce will remain. It means that we are going to have to do a lot of things between the company and moving different work packages about, keeping people at Rosyth maybe for longer working on the aircraft carriers, maybe having to transfer people down to Barrow for the submarine programme so we will keep the jobs.”

Tony Douglas an MoD official responsible for military equipment confirmed that the MoD was “now in the heart of negotiations” with BAE Systems and didn’t want to prejudice those negotiations by revealing a date.

Peter Roberts, Senior Research Fellow for Sea Power and Maritime Studies at RUSI has said that slippage in the Type 26 programme may lead to extra ships being built on the Clyde in order to retain jobs at the yards on the river.

“What it’s going to mean for the Clyde is very significant and I think we couldn’t get a national shipbuilding strategy at a more important time and it might well be that we see further OPV’s being turned out on the Clyde”

He also suggested that the Type 31 light frigate could enter build before the Type 26.

Referring to the commitment of the government to the Clyde, he said:

“There is going to be a commitment, we see that from the government, of continued shipbuilding orders.”

According to reports in the media a few months ago, union representatives were told by BAE Systems that a “worst-case scenario” of 800 redundancies was possible if the UK government pulled back from its commitment to the manufacture of frigates on the Clyde.

The defence minister has said the UK government remains “absolutely committed” to building eight Royal Navy frigates on the Clyde. Philip Dunne told the House of Commons “nothing had changed” since the plans were announced last November in a defence spending review.

Mr Dunne said the UK government’s commitment to Scotland and the Royal Navy was “crystal clear”:

“Let me assure the shipyard workers on the Clyde, this government remains absolutely committed to the Type 26 programme and to assembling the ships on the Clyde.”

Mr Dunne also promised the programme would sustain 6,800 military and civilian jobs in Scotland, rising to 8,200 by 2022.

A MoD spokesperson said:

“The Government is committed to building ships on the Clyde and to the Type 26 programme. over the next decade, we will spend around £8 billion on Royal Navy warship. as set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, we will build two new offshore patrol vessels on The Clyde, maintaining Scottish shipbuilding capability ahead of the start of the Type 26 build.

We will also consult with industry and trade unions as part of the national shipbuilding strategy, which will set the UK shipbuilding industry on a sustainable footing for the future.”

The SNP and others had said that any reduction in the number of Type 26 frigates being built on the Clyde would be a “betrayal” of the workforce.

The original plan for the class had been 8 anti-submarine warfare variants and five general purpose variants, this remains largely unchanged except for the specification of the later five vessels, which has been reduced to make them more affordable.

The later five are now designated the Type 31 frigate.

The Prime Minister has confirmed that all new frigates and additional vessels mentioned in the defence review will be built in Scotland.

45 COMMENTS

    • Craig, Apache AH is built by a US company in America and sold in US$. As sterling has depreciated against many currencies post Brexit HMG has to spend more sterling to buy the 50 on order. This will be the same for the 136 JSF Lightening II and 700+(?) AJAX AFV. To keep the numbers up for these promised high profile buys it will almost certainly entail cuts to other defence areas or delays in purchases. Remain Side mentioned this prior to 23 June but Brexiteers called it Project Fear

      • You don’t understand how defence deals are structured. About a fifth of each F35 – all of them, not just the ones the UK buys – is manufactured in the UK. That means that foreign exchange movements are pretty much a wash. Over time the F35 will be a very significant generator of trade *surplus* for the UK.

        It’s a similar story for Ajax. It is being developed by General Dynamics UK. Some parts will be imported, but 80% of the vehicle manufacture will be completed in the UK, with 70% of the supply chain companies UK-based.

        When a country has a significant defence industry of its own, the finances of defence deals *never* end up as you suggest. There is always an offset deal, so currency movements are almost always neutral.

        There will be *zero* reason to cut other defence projects, although I expect we’ll be hearing that for years from the Remain bitter-enders.

    • So, let’s go step by step. The apache is being built under licence by agusta westland and we’ve already paid for the license, so that might actually be cheaper. The F35 project is still under development, so the cost was likely to rise anyway, but since BAE Systems is a tier 1 contractor, it might work out well for the UK economy as a consequence. The Ajax afvs were originally meant to be built in Wales using British steel, but are now only being assembled in the UK, so it would have been better for us if we had no European involvement whatsoever since it was eu subsidies that relocated the manufacture to Spain (using Spanish instead of British steel btw). Project fear or project pragmatism?

    • So let’s go step by step. The Apache is a complete new build by the cousins for their own AH and the 50 for UK were tagged onto that to keep costs down. Although Leonardo (new name for Augusta Westland) bid for the build they were unsuccessful. It will be a replacement for the UK Longbow and Leonardo may get the in-service maintenance contract but that’ll be it and no decision yet. Informed observers (pre-Brexit) said F35 costs likely to fall as production cranked up – F-35B for USMC now underway no longer din development – but as Sterling falls with Brexit implications understood by markets, extra costs likely.

    • Aidan Handyside Unaware of the change of AW name, also the last I’d read they were building them under license. The F35B was also still in development last I’d read (with some pre production prototypes flying at shows and the like), so perhaps I’m not well informed enough to contribute – maybe I was also wrong about the Ajax…

  1. They are certainly not useless OPV’s, in actual fact they will be very useful to the Navy.. They will take some of the pressure off the larger Destroyer/ Frigates deployments… more the merrier as far as i’m concerned.

      • One destroyer and one frigate already in semi laid up status owning to lack of money and manpower. OPVs not fit for potentially hostile territory, no hanger for extended helicopter operations (would have been very useful for anti piracy patrol otherwise) These ships will be quickly ditched for peanuts to some delighted third world country.

    • Think you’ll find the “Type 31” will land up being a very expensive OPV!
      Seems like a Type 26 that’s had a “Type 23” done to it.

  2. To stop all the rubbish they should just get on with it or build the type 31 first. As for this pound devaluation rubbish it’s media scare mongering, they keep quoting the 1.50 figure it was only that high the night before the vote as banks thought we would stay yes it fell but now it’s back to around the normal exchange rate of about 1.31 and has been for sometime the 1.50 was an artificial rise and was far from the norm.

  3. If you watch the Parliamentary Defence Committee hearing from Monday you’d be excused for blowing your mind over the amount of obfuscation, waffle, management babble and a complete failure to genuinely answer direct questions. It simply reinforced Admiral Lord West who told the committee at its previous meeting that there “isn’t any money” to build this year. Sounded like a lot of tosh. To claim the design is 60% complete and not be able to describe what’s left tone done sounded hollow. Can’t wait for the Report…..

    • Type 26 are supposed to appear from 2021, if we get a type 31 I can’t see them appearing till the 2030’s and will likely be a merger for a small frigate come landing platform looking at the current concept. Considering we are using RFA’s for anti-piracy the fleet is getting desperate.

    • We used to have battleships once, tell navy is shrinking. What’s your point? The size of the navy wasn’t the issue, the number of frigates being built was – more are planned than were originally to be built, that was your original point – not the allocation of resources. 16 is more than 13, make your mind up which point you are trying to prove and stick to it.

    • I can’t see that many being built, we don’t have the man power to crew that many ships or the money to run that many ships. Once the two carriers are built only one will be operational at any one time Nd that includes only one set of aircraft which will have to cross-deck, of Albion and Bulwark only one of those is active at a time. I’d be surprised if they build more than 4 of the 31’s and retire Albion and Bulwark with no true replacement. The size of the navy is an issue because if we reduce it and then supposedly make it bigger we will not have maintained the manning levels necessary to crew the ships. Plus how do we protect the carriers without relying upon NATO to lend ships?

    • they are buying ~130 F35Bs, more than enough to supply both carriers and the RAF (the carriers will apparently normally operate with 12 F35s each), the frigates will be necessary to operate a carrier group, though admittedly our navy would be pushed to protect 2 carriers at once in different areas of operation without assistance and keep other commitments. I suspect any reduction would come from the type 26s as they are more expensive than the type 31s, though they will face financial penalties now if they fail to build the full run (unless I miss my bet, anyway) so it may be cheaper to build them than cancel like it was with the carriers.

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