Once again, people are claiming that shipbuilding on the Clyde has been “betrayed” as new support vessel work might go overseas.

What’s the problem with this claim? It’s Rosyth that is hoping for the work, not the Clyde.

We reported recently on rumours that work on the Fleet Solid Support Ships could go to Spain to silence Gibraltar claims, which appears to have brought this topic back into focus.

This article from last year could be where this confusion originates as despite the headline ‘Clyde yards suffer new blow as Royal Navy orders set to go abroad’ it says “unions had hoped the vessels would be constructed in yards across the UK and leave the specialist yards on the Clyde to built complex warships, while the headline says that it’s a blow to the Clyde (people love to just read headlines rather than whole articles) the article itself goes on to explain that contrary to the headline, other UK yards would benefit from the work.

Another issue with this is pretty simple, the 40,000 tonne support vessels wouldn’t even physically fit on the slip alongside the Type 26 Frigate builds.

The unions and the UK Defence Journal have been advocating that the build stay in the UK, not that it be done on the Clyde as the company themselves 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.”

I also spoke to a source intimately involved with shipbuilding in Glasgow regarding capacity:

“I think it’s the obvious answer from an industrial point of view but the question is capacity. There isn’t any at Govan while T26 is in build.”

Additionally, politicians from many parties have been advocating that this work stay in the UK.

Stewart McDonald, MP for Glasgow South and SNP Spokesperson for Defence, told me last week in reference to news that the work could go overseas instead of to Rosyth:

“If UK and Scottish Shipbuilders are overlooked as suggested, then it will represent another betrayal of the workforce from which the Conservatives will not deserve to recover.”

In addition, Paul Sweeney, MP for Glasgow North East and All-Party Parliamentary Group for Shipbuilding & Ship Repair Vice-Chair, also told me recently in reference to a recent debate:

“It was telling that the Defence Procurement minister made no reply to the questions raised about the Fleet Solid Support ships in the debate this week and perhaps this is the reason why. The economic case for building the £1Bn FSS programme in the UK is self-evident and it nothing more than laissez faire Treasury dogma that is denying British industry this opportunity when it is the most beneficial option for the British economy and the long-term sustainability of the British shipbuilding industry.”

Jude Brimble, GMB National Secretary, said:

“The Royal Fleet Auxiliary contracts are the key to unlocking the country’s massive shipbuilding potential. But Ministers refusal to put the UK’s interests first will mean that instead of a massive programme of shared economic and employment re-distribution, our firms will be competing against each other for slivers of complex warship work. It beggars belief that the Government wants to give this golden opportunity away to foreign competitors when working class communities up and down the country are crying out for decent work.”

Compounding this confusion last year, the First Minister of Scotland stated that the international tendering for auxiliary vessel contracts is a betrayal for the Clyde, despite the yards having no interest in them, having never been promised them and the fact the vessels couldn’t physically fit on the slipway.

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions, she said:

“That work should be on the Clyde, I argue that that work was promised to the Clyde and should definitely go to the Clyde. We should be very clear. What we are now seeing develop around that work and the future of the shipyards is nothing short of a blatant betrayal of Scottish shipyards. During the referendum, promises were made to those shipyards by the Tories, and indeed, by all the unionist parties—the shipyards were told of promises of work for years to come. The unionist parties specifically said that, if Scotland became independent, it would not be able to secure that work for the Clyde, because contracts could not go to “foreign countries. It is an absolute betrayal and I hope that we will hear all parties across the parliament stand up for shipbuilding on the Clyde.”

Sturgeon said the move was an “absolute betrayal” in light of promises made in the run-up to 2014’s independence vote. There are three key problems with this:

    • The Clyde is at capacity with the River class and Type 26 Frigate builds and has no intention of bidding for this work.
    • The 40,000 tonne support vessels wouldn’t physically fit on the slip alongside the Type 26 Frigate builds.
    • The only vessels “promised” were warships, such as frigates and destroyers.

An article which also appeared in The Evening Times last year also points out that unions are demanding the vessels are built in the UK, as seeking an international tender “undermines the national interest” however none of them are advocating for the 40,000 tonne support vessels be built on the Clyde which is expected to be at capacity until into the 2030’s, long after the date the vessels will be required.

We spoke to a contact at the BAE yard in Govan at the time, who told us that the article was a bit surprising as no one at BAE expected the vessels would be built on the Clyde:

“Calling this a blow is a very strange choice of words. It [the article] came as a surprise frankly, I don’t think anyone here considers this any sort of blow especially as we were never going to be building them and BAE have no intention of bidding for them.”

Other than procurement activity undertaken during the World Wars, the UK has not had a complex warship built outside of the UK since the start of the 20th century at least.

All of the Royal Navy’s new complex warships are being built in UK shipyards however merchant vessels for the RFA are not included in this and can be (but I don’t think should be) tendered overseas.

An MoD spokesperson said:

“There will be an international competition to build the ‘Fleet Solid Support’ supply ships, which UK companies will be able to enter, with a separate UK-only competition for customisation work and trials. This approach ensures the best value for money for taxpayers.”

The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 confirmed that three new large Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) Solid Support Ships would be acquired for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, to replace the single-hulled RFA Fort Victoria, which entered service in 1994, and RFA Fort Rosalie and RFA Fort Austin (both dating from the late 1970s). The Solid Support Ship is designed to carry a wide range of stores to support other ships with ammunition, food and explosives to replenish naval ships at sea. They will have extensive aviation facilities, with 2 flight decks, one at the stern and one spot on top of the hanger. They will have the ability to to replenish at sea via 6 replenishment stations, three on each side as well as using helicopters for vertical replenishment.

The ships are expected to enter service in the mid 2020s.

In summary and as a point of clarification in response to remarks on social media about this topic, the news of the work going overseas (if true) would impact Rosyth and not the Clyde. The Clyde isn’t bidding for this work (Rosyth is), the Clyde has no capacity to build the vessels (Rosyth does) and the Clyde isn’t hoping for them (Rosyth is).

Confusing the issue doesn’t help.

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Keithdwat
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Keithdwat

I Hearst the Clyde also didn’t get the contract for the Gerald R Ford carriers! That is simply a betrayal by those dirty engish in Westminster! Also China is not building its vessels on the Clyde, how dare they neglect Scottish workers like that!

Keithdwat
Guest
Keithdwat

No you.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Guest
Levi Goldsteinberg

Whinging has overtaken whiskey as the primary Scottish export good

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

utter rubbish the worst post i think i’ve read on here for many a time, the scottish workers are slow and the arrogance they show of expecting, not earning contracts is a disgrace betrayal? the clyde should thank the ‘dirty english’ for providing them with secure jobs employment at all. the slowness that the clyde produces the vessels makes me think they should be grateful for what they get, they haven’t earned it.

Keithdwat
Guest
Keithdwat

In all fairness the slowness could be put down to the MoD and their buy rate. Although the Clyde workers haven’t been up to scratch in a while. The B2 rivers and their many defects for example.

But in case you didn’t realise my post above was sarcasm!

peter french
Guest
peter french

Once again the Idiots take hold of an issue about which they have no specific knowledge indeed dont want to have any knowledge so they can create a furore such as the Unions and Scottish Nationlsts , The sheer mendacity of this approach feeds the ignorance of the Scottish electorate . n and deceives them for should the Scottish Government hold sway the work would go elsewhere anyway

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

giving the contracts to the clyde is like hiring a bunch of polish brickies to rebuild hadrian’s wall, it will take forever to happen and the only people who will benefit are the brickies, and that thejoy of knowing scots will be because they’ll be behind it!

Peter Shaw
Guest
Peter Shaw

I feel very uncomfortable that the UK is giving this work to Spain. What’s the point? Spain have clearly shown themselves to be enemies through their repeated incursions into British territorial waters and the general harassment of Gibraltar. Moreover, ship yards in Europe are very heavily subsidised through the back-door often against EU procurement laws. Therefore, why not give this to our shipyards instead. They are used within combat zones so are legitimate warships so again no need to set this out for tender. Generally the UK does not support is manufacturing which is why our industry has declined and… Read more »

Alex T
Guest
Alex T

Agree with you 100%, also re. our overseas aid.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

especially when you look where the 13.1 billion £’s goes to mill to the nation with the regions most booming economy(india) and the same to a nation that harbours the worst of the worlds terrorist group and allows their territory to be used for the training of those who exist to do us harm(pakistan). godzillions to nigeria? what’s that all about? millions to syria , and afghanistan, is that a sorry we bombed the crap out of you payment? we’re even giving the syrian despot “millions syria. sudan, the country with mogadishu for its capital? a hotbed of trouble and… Read more »

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Have they given the work to Spain? Is there any evidence to support that at all? Don’t blindly believe random news stories especially when they seem a little strange in the first place…

Longtime
Guest
Longtime

It’s not giving the work to Spain the Spanish yard is just 1 of the yards who have bid as have many other yards. And they are not warships yes they are required in theatre but they are not expected to directly engage the enemy unless in self defence. If you class them as warships you also have to class all private contractors who go out to war zones to do in theatre support work as soldiers which they aren’t. The only RFA ships that should be classed as warships should be the ‘Bays’ as with the predecessor ‘Round tables’… Read more »

Peter Shaw
Guest
Peter Shaw

well let’s wait and see if the works goes to Spain….nothing surprises me about this particular government this time. France classifies their ships are war ships and excludes them from open competition. I think we need to do the same. They carry armaments and they can engage so they should be classified as war ships.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Please base your opinion on fact rather than fake news. There has been no evidence for the contract being already given to a Spanish shipyard.

Alex T
Guest
Alex T

The fact that the French classify their support ships as war ships is a known fact, not fake news.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

That is not what I am talking about. The fake news are the articles claiming that the contract has already been given to Spanish yards in return for less interference in Gibraltar…

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

with ‘allies’ like spain, who needs enemies?

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

I just can’t get (allegedly) SNP’s comment on the start of QE Class sea trials, ‘This is not a Scottish issue purely English’ or something like that. Now they have declared 2021 will be another chance to break free. Surely, no sound UK Government could commit to any more new warships from that country. It’s time the thousands of potential job losses were raised at the highest level in the Scottish Parliament, to attempt clarification with the SNP.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

give the clydef**K all until they earn it since when did the clyde deliver anything on time?

Andy
Guest
Andy

Well, I created a petition to help get support to build the FSS in the UK, but despite writing to Unions, MPs and Councillors in shipbuilding areas it only has 14000 signatories. So unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as big an issue as some people make it out to. I would like to see them built in the UK. Feel free to sign and share:
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235377

Peter Shaw
Guest
Peter Shaw

I signed it.

Expat
Guest
Expat

No votes in defence as they say. That’s why it continually a candidate for cuts by successive governments. The 2% GDP, they just get around that by adding something into the budget, we’ll probably see part of the foreign aid budget added to defence under the next government.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

there are thousands of votes in defense ask the dockyard workers in portsmouth, plymouth, and chatham who saw their shipbuilding legacies do to the joke that is the clyde. remember when the worlds battleship dreadnought was built at portsmouth in less than a calendar year and that’s from the era of the rivet.it would take the clyde 5 years to do do it, and thats with all the technology available today

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

Signed the petition mate, good call.

Seeing a bit of ‘anti Jock’ stuff in the general debate, I see John Bull is alive and kicking. Nationalism in any form is pretty tragic, English, Scottish or any country is a bit cringey. Just another ‘ism’ or ‘ology’ to buy into.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@Andy P Please do not confuse ridicule of the SNP and their independence ambitions with any dislike for the Scots. But while the SNP are given power by those Scots then some ridicule filters down. It always confuses me that while I am called a ‘Little Englander’ for wanting independence from the EU (am I a Nationalist?) those in Scotland who wish for independence are never called ‘Little Scotlanders’. More like ‘Bravehearts’ or whatever. So its OK for a Scot or Welshman or Northern Irishman to demand independence but not an Englishman? And generally when people dislike something they add… Read more »

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

the last referendum cost over a billion to hold, if scotland wants another, then they should bloody well pay for it

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

Yes, everyone in Scotland was all for it, that’s why Scotland is getting independence…….

I know life is easier if you can pigeon hole everyone but I hate to be the one to break it to you but we can be complicated creatures us people. Some of us fit more than one pigeon hole, its a bit of a burger but hey, its life.

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

Sorry for late reply mate, as I said any form of Nationalism is pretty tragic, as you point out any ‘ism’ or ‘ology’ is just an idea and its quite scary how many people jump on bandwagons. Each to their own, enjoy your own ‘ism’. I hope it improves your (and your nearest and dearest) lives.

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

Best price, best work gets the job. Ideal if it were in the U.K. but can we compete?

Peter Shaw
Guest
Peter Shaw

Well we don’t know if it is the best price as there are hidden subsidies (e.g. Korean’s and Spanish bids). Also don’t forget the tax we get back through the paid employees. It should be net cost rather than gross cost factoring in the tax benefit back.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@Peter Shaw – Well for once I have to say I am more than happy to totally agree with that comment. The problem UK shipyards (and other suppliers) face is that the Treasury and Civil Service have a built in aversion to UK supply. In an industry in which I worked the belief was that they thought the product got better the bigger the square root of the distance from Whitehall.
When accountants cannot understand the difference between Gross Price (of foreign purchase) and Nett Cost (of UK supply) our ‘yards will never get a fair hearing.

Expat
Guest
Expat

Trouble is most that tax isn’t entirely guaranteed. If an employee pays a % into their pension its not taxed until its taken out, at a lower rate and perhaps decades away. VAT, that depends on what they buy or if they save or spend it in the UK. Corporation tax, well the yard has to make a profit and not have any previous losses to write off. I’ve seen 50% used as figure returned to the exchequer, that’s extremely unlikely. More likely to be much lower and take many years to get back, possibly decades. I’ve seen articles saying… Read more »

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@expat – I understand your points but can I gently suggest some positives? PAYE and NI are deducted at source so have immediate benefit to Government. VAT is far more likely to be spent in the local communities pretty soon after salaries are paid and if delayed then on major purchases like cars etc. Of course the shipyard would pay VAT on imports or supplies but nett off against taxable / zero rated sales. If someone is investing in their pension then that will power UK pension funds to be able to invest in stocks and shares that create further… Read more »

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

except we’d be waiting to see them forever

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Frankly I’d suggest we refuse to give the Clyde anything including the future type 26 batches, unless the Scottish government stop with their anti British nonsense. And refrain from another referendum for at least two decades.

Peter Shaw
Guest
Peter Shaw

you can’t punish everyone because of some lunatics from the SNP. They don’t speak for the majority of Scottish people only the morons.

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

I wouldn’t id offer the worker’s the chance to move down south, to a new yard with extra pay. Its politics you have to play rough.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

why would ‘we’ down south want them?

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

GIVEN THE CLYDES APPALLING PRODUCTION RATE, 4 YEARS FOR AN O.P.V. THEY’RE LUCKY TO GET THE CONTRACTS AT ALL IF PORTSMOUTH BUILT THE WORLDS FIRST BATTLESHIP IN LESS THAN 12 MONTHS THE EXPECTATION SHOULD BE THE DELIVERY OF TWO SHIPS PER YEAR OR BUILD ABROAD.WE’VE NO REASON TO STICK WITH THE ONLY BUILT IN BRITAIN DOGMA. THE CLYDE DESERVES CONTEMPT.FAULT RIDDEN O.P.V’S, SLOW BUILDS SAYS IT ALL FOR ME.

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Also I want to point out i have nothing against the Scottish people. Just their government.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

I agree with you on that. The SNP are lunatics, most Scottish people are level headed, intelligent individuals.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

I have nothing to learn about Scotland. Some of my family are from and still live in Scotland. I am fully aware of Scottish politics thank you. The fact that the SNP have 35 MPs does not make them non-lunatics. After all remember how many people voted for UKIP? And look at Corbyns Support!

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

CORBYN IS A TW** LETS STOP THIS POLITICS RUBBISH.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

INTELLIGENT? THAT’S A FIRST ON ME.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@TH – Why do you keep repeating the same thing over and over. Short attention span or just being annoying?

And you have a detailed answer below that shows you know ‘not a lot’ about Scottish politics yourself

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

STOP THIS CRAP

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

NOT IN MY LIFETIME TELL THEM HOW MANY MILLIONS THE LAST REFERENDUM COST AND TELL SCOTLAND IF THEY WANT ANOTHER they CAN PAY FOR IT

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

WHO WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT SCOTTISH POLITICS ANYWAY?

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

and there’s plenty of them.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

give them nothing until they earn it 4 years to build a batch 2 river? the clyde is a joke.

Helions
Guest
Helions

I am DEEPLY offended that my local yacht basin did not receive this contract. Just because of that one regrettable incident regarding the overhaul and subsequent loss of the SS Minnow and her fearless crew…Harumph!

Cheers!

lee
Guest

I don’t know much about what yards can build what ships. But I do feel that these ships should be built in British Yards. As many say we need to keep not only the skills, but we need the work to keep some yards open. The economic benefits to British yards and suppliers, as well as votes for local M.P.s, must out weigh a couple of bucks saved by building them abroad. Secondly I am under the impression that these ships are fitted with some form of defence, as if they don’t go into combat zones they go very near… Read more »

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

The first hurdle is to get a British yard to submit a tender, then that tender needs to be realistic in price… Once they are over those hurdles then yes it would be preferable if it was given to a British Yard, but they are big hurdles…

No British Yard bid for the last set of support ships…

Darren
Guest
Darren

Because they knew thery were not welcome to bid.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

WHO SAID?

Cam
Guest
Cam

Good looking ship at the top, I hope it’s this version we build..

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

Well same sh*t different day in SNP Dreamland …. when their own unions tell them they are wrong and they ignore it you know how detached from reality these politicians are. Sturgeon is fast becoming an unnecessary bore in the wider UK and a liability for Scotland. The sad thing is (and the politicians in Scotland are making it worse with their myopia about ‘the Clyde’) that Rosyth could have an excellent future assembling the 3 MARS ships, followed by the two hospital / disaster ships as floated by Ms Mordaunt and then with a modified hull design two new… Read more »

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@TH – well not so fast Soft Lad … Given the lower numbers of people per constituency in Scotland there is a view that the Scots particularly are over represented. And why the next GE will be fought over 600 not 650 constituencies. For example the median sizes are: 72,400 in England, 69,000 in Scotland with the smallest electorate at 22,100 in Na h-Eileanan an Iar and the largest electorate at 111,800 in the Isle of Wight. So basically SNP MPs need fewer voters to be elected. They are so popular they were defeated in the IndyRef#1 in 2014. Oops!… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Gaining “freedom” in some way intimates that Scotland lost it some how in the first place. Scotland has always been a volentary partner in the Union(England took on a Scottish king, not the other way around). It was always a marriage of two nations, it does Scotland down to suggest otherwise. The independence debate is not about gaining freedom it’s about the Scottish people deciding if the Union is right for them or not. Scotland has provided leadership in the Union always, and was a key and fundamental part of the the British empires success, don’t lessen Scotland just to… Read more »

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

SCOTLAND COULDN’T SUPPORT ITSELF, THEY’D SOON COME CAP IN HAND TO THE ENGLISH TREASURY TO BAIL THEM OUT

Steve Taylor
Guest
Steve Taylor

Anywhere but Spain.

Darren
Guest
Darren

Anywhere in the UK, but Spain and other foreign unfair bids.

James
Guest
James

Hopefully in Spain. They know how to make good ships. And they are friends of the UK, regardless the Gibraltar problem. Spain purchases defense equipment from the United Kingdom, and vice versa. That continuous resentment towards Spain is not good for either of the two countries and their economies, and their people.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Bye then chummy!
I look forward to the equalization of things after you’ve gone when the Barnett subsidy cash isnt being wasted on SNP appeasement projects.

Cam
Guest
Cam

I’m Scottish and I know if we got independence last time we would be worse of than we are now TH. We would be bankrupt and lending money left right and centre. The oil money was tens of billions off what the SNP would have relied on, and Scotland couldn’t even join the EU again because of our deficit, it far exceeds the EU joining rules percentages. But I do feel scotland should have an oil fund like Norway has for the people of Scotland and the communities affected by the oil industry down turns ect. Norway has many billions… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Betrayed is an emotive word, it’s also a doing word. I would say instead that Britian, it’s people and industries have been let down by politicians who because of dogma have no interest in them or prefer to support the interests of their own class such as the international elites/corporations over that of the British people.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@TH – So what happened to the ‘once in a generation’ referendum decision in 2014? Is the SNP run NHS so bad in Scotland that a generation is now 7 years (given she wants another in 2021)? Of course the SNP’s like for ignoring referendums come from their love of the EU. Its what the EU did in Ireland twice, Denmark and now the EU Luvvies want to try it on here in the UK. And can you please explain to this simpleton Brexiteer how you can be ‘independent’ when: * 50% of your laws are made in a foreign… Read more »

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

the appalling rate .of production, must make them some of the worst warship building yards in the world, it has come to the point where they arrogantly expect contracts, without earning them.

Chris
Guest
Chris

I honestly think these ships should be built in British yards yes, scotus yards have had a lot of work. So yards in the North East and yards down South deserve some orders. So rather than the Mps moan why don’t they start asking the ship builders in those areas why aren’t they bidding for them! Of they are then they can petition the government to give the work to British yards.