Prime Minister Theresa May has hailed a shipbuilding contract worth up to £20 billion between BAE Systems and the Australian government as the biggest Naval defence contract for a decade.

BAE Systems has been chosen as the preferred bidder for the ‘SEA 5000’ Future Frigate competition, with a design based on Britain’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship. It will involve BAE Systems building nine British-designed warships in Adelaide, the first export of a British design for new-build frigates since the 1970s.

Type 26 was chosen over bids from Italy and Spain for the contract.

The government say that the agreement will secure more than 4000 jobs in Australia and also boost Britain’s export economy, with huge opportunities set to arise which the Government believes the specialist knowledge and capability of British firms will be best placed to fulfil.

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“The sheer scale and nature of this contract puts the UK at the very forefront of maritime design and engineering and demonstrates what can be achieved by UK industry and Government working hand-in-hand.

We have always been clear that as we leave the EU we have an opportunity to build on our close relationships with allies like Australia. This deal is a perfect illustration that the Government is doing exactly that.

And while this is an enormous boost for the UK economy, it will also cement our strategic partnership with one of our oldest and closest friends for decades to come.”

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:

“The UK and Australia already enjoy a strong trading relationship worth more than £13 billion a year. Today’s announcement is a further boost to this relationship which will create significant opportunities for companies in both countries to deepen their trading ties.

As an international economic department, we are excited for the opportunities this will bring to both our nations including increased data and information sharing, high-end technology transfer, and collaboration at the cutting-edge of maritime expertise. We look forward to further discussion on future trade through our joint UK-Australia trade working group.”

79 COMMENTS

  1. For the first time in a long time i think that the government have made the right decision when it comes to naval hardware.

  2. Interesting the Australians are getting more than we….. Granted we are also supposed to have ‘at least 5’ Type 31s in addition but as it is, these appear to be no more than OPVs in a shell suit.

    I hope the recent rumblings over defence spending (or lack thereof) in No. 10 will yield more resources for the RN as well as the Armed Forces overall. I wish Gavin Williamson the best in this endeavor; I have been very impressed with him so far!

  3. Well should give use a good ready made infrastructure in the Pacific if we decide to forward base a T26 in the Pacific/far east.

  4. and yet zero details on how this provides any value to the UK.

    Don’t get me wrong, it a win for BAe (we live in a global economy with global companies, the B in BAe does not mean automatic flow into Britain) and it is a positive to our designers, but none of this means value to the UK.

    Are we going to see the details of the deal or is it going to be hidden behind national defence secrets?

    You see a export order in the US and it is always followed by clear details of which states is getting what money, where is it for the UK? Hiding details for national defence reasons just encourages poor deals. Transparency in government is key to getting value for money.

    We have so many inventions over time (for example the bendy trains) that were exported out of the UK with little to zero benefit to the UK, time to be more transparent.

    • A large number of the individual components for the Type 26 will be built in Britain. Therefore Australia more the doubling the total number of vessels being built means the order books for these companies increase which boosts the economy even though the ships themselves are being built in Oz.

        • Steve -ah yes who can forget the APT,another great idea that nearly made it over the finishing line but abandoned in the end.Fiat took up the challenge and made it work,now known as the Pendilino range of Trains.

  5. A great piece of news. I believe this is only the start for British shipbuilding winning exports. We have still got what it takes, make no mistake on that score.

  6. This is brilliant news. Now let’s follow that here in the UK with an increase in Defence spending to 3% of GDP. Good times coming ⚓️

    • Watched Question Time last night Phil, and the subject of increased defence spending came up on the programme. The lack of interest & knowledge on the subject shown by both the panel, and the Exeter audience, was disappointing ……..
      2% was trumpeted a few times, apparently there is no problem …….. !

      • I saw the that. The national news a couple of days ago (BBC or Channel 4, I forget) also did some street interviews asking people which areas of public spending needed to rise (NHS, housing, social care, education and defence were all categories people were shown written on a card). Only one of about 6 or 8 people included defence in the list of 4 or 5 areas they selected. A couple, when explicitly asked “what about defence” said “no, I don’t think we need any increase there”. It’s all very anecdotal but I’m afraid that, despite the wishes of the majority on this site and despite an awful lot of talk at all levels about the increasing threats in the world, I really get the impression that the general public is not interested and would not support significant increases in defence spending. Something small like 2.0% to 2.1% might slip by but a big increase e,g, to 3% I think would probably spark a active public backlash.

        The Question Time (QT) section on defence was pretty sickening wasn’t it. I don’t know what I’m talking about but at least with help from here and other places I’ve learned enough to know that the QT debate was a bunch of people who had absolutely no idea what they were talking about (a special shout out to Janet Street-Porter on that one) discussing the issue. The only sensible comment was that if extra money is given then a lot of it needs to be allocated to improving service men and women’s pay and conditions. I think that might have been the Labour MP who said that but I forget.

        • I had to switch off after that. They’d been spouting tosh all evening but I couldn’t bear to watch it any further. Only one grown up on the panel and he wasn’t very inspiring.

          • I think some of you are missing the point. The positive is that it was mentioned at all. Defence is usually completely ignored, so any air time the subject gets can only be a good thing. Any increase in awareness has got to start somewhere.

        • I wonder if the Trump/Putin summit and possible undermining of NATO will focus people’s minds. The general public is aware of how mad Trump is…any threat to NATO may focus minds

          • Exactly! Defence HAS to have effective, INDEPENDANT, scalable capacity to consistently provide government with a truly credible option for use of force, at all times. Defence capability is built decades before. Hollowing it out, or leaving gaps cannot be corrected quickly should the worst happen, or if doing nothing, is worse than doing something.

        • I would not take anything from msm and msn to seriously. The QT audience is always rigged. I have two friends who tried to get on their and were refused when they said which political party they supported (UKIP). The people I speak too at work or in general, if it ever comes to defence in a chat, all say more needs to be spent and it is woefully underfinanced at the moment. So don’t get down about it. The mainstream media has its own agenda.

  7. This is great news for Australia and will definitely spur on a Canadian decision to follow suit later on this Summer/Fall 2018 with another contract for the LM/BAE Type 26 Canadian Surface Combatant CSC) to build 15 more Type 26 Frigates. Just think, both Canada & Australia will have 24 of the 32 sister ships. That’s 75% of all Type 26 Frigates developed by Britain. Go Canada Go!!

    • (Chris H) I wonder if the invitation to RCAF to Mount Guard at Buck House etc in June and July has anything to do with ‘greasing the wheels of decision’?

      Having seen them on parade they were bloody magnificent …

  8. In answer to Steve. There are at least 3 key UK manufactured items specified in the Australian build. Rolls Royce UK for MT 30 gas turbines, Ultra Electronics UK for the S2150 hull mounted sonar and Thales UK for the S2087 towed array and variable depth sonar. There will be plenty of other UK sourced componentry, but the above are known so far.
    Please check facts before going to print.

  9. And the UK will be lucky to get the at present scheduled 8 and will no doubt be fitted for, and not with all the bells and whistles that the Australians will probably insist on. This is a great deal for UK PLC. Clyde shipbuilding has a fuller order book than any British yard but the way they carp on you would think they were down to building pedalos for the Swiss navy. We’ve shut down most of the English yards just for you and the fact that the frigates will not be built exclusively on the Clyde is surely beneficial for the whole country. A first Brexit boost but I agree that the figures being thrown out will not be what actually comes through the front door. The Aussies need their cut, their jobs. Quid quo pro.

  10. As a brit down under I can tell you this decision is full of controversy. Media widely talking about project risk due to ultra slow uk build schedule and almost laughing at the 9 years till first type 26 handed over to RN and risk of Bae not being able to support two parallel projects. If uk wants Canadian orders then Mod really need to look at putting first vessel back on original schedule… Demonstrate to Canadians that many issues will have been worked through prior to them finishing detailed design stage.

    As for fit out for Oz….. combat systems, sensors and weapons fit, Helo’s etc will generally be US or US /Australian hybrids.

    Build in Australia isn’t without its challenges as well. Adelaide will be hosting construction of DCN Barracuda design based subs over next 25 years or so and the city doesn’t have that significant an engineering / fabrication skills base…. Watch the Brit brain drain occur.

    • For the amount of money the Australian government is spending on its future submarine project and the threat posed by the PRC they should have gone for a nuclear powered submarine.

      I understand public opinion is against such an.option, well public opinion doesn’t count for much once PRC nuclear submarines ever start menacing the coast of Australia and the RAN has no adequate response.

      • Non nuclear subs are quieter and considered more effective when operating in a more coastal defensive role that Australia will use them. Nuclear subs excel for more offensive operations in the open waters.

        • What would rather be in a nuclear or diesel submarines when in a war situation?

          The advantages of nuclear over diesel are considerable. Speed, endurance, unlimited power, greater size and so on.

          For me if you could afford the high costs of nuclear submarines it wins every time

          • Of course in a very limited number of opetatipnal scenarios a diesel submarine may have advantage over a nuclear one.

            The PLAN understands the value of nuclear submarines and the doctrine surrounding them, that is why they are developing and planning to.build a large number of nuclear submarines in the future to replace their existing diesel ones.

            If Australia gets into a hot war with the PRC I would suggest the latters nuclear submarines will be more than a match for the formed diesel ones.

        • But the scale and distances to be covered by aussy navy are huge with Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean , South China Sea and waters to the south of Australia as well.

          For a country that has generated income from exporting uranium to then block the use of the end product as fuel that would compress those vast distances is a big decision.

  11. Interesting to estimate how much of the £20bn contract build will be worth to the UK, I would guess between 25% to 35%. Protecting jobs and investment in the UK, generating tax revenue to pay for public services

    So for all those moaners out there what is it to be 100% of nothing or at least 25% of £20bn?

    In addition, now that T26 has won a major export order this will enhance its profile in the warship market and more likely to.win further export orders.

    Plus BAE will make a profit which enhance its dividend to UK shareholders.

    This is a big win for UK plc, the RN and the RAN.

    • Indeed and heightens the profile which was becoming somewhat embarrassing in respect to selling our warships abroad (other than second hand). I am sure the Italians and Spanish won’t be overjoyed by this and the prospect of losing other orders but most importantly whatever the profits for Britain is is far more about expanding the base from which it and its designs and projects generally can be taken seriously throughout the World. Perception is everything and provides for big new opportunities that losing it would have precluded for as long as we can see ahead, maybe irretrievably.

  12. I am really pleased with Austrailia’s decision, and for Bae (and hopefully Rolls Royce).

    That said, Theresa May trumpeting it sticks in my throat. This government has sabotaged and undermined the T26 project continuously.

    They did the same to the carriers under Cameron.

    • Rubbish the T26 is now being built for the royal navy multi billion pound contracts don’t happen over night .. Also within a week of PM Ms May becoming PM she give the order for the trident replacement she been good news for the forces ..she also give the order for the 26 and 31 to start and cut steel.

      • I am not (for probaby the first time) having a pop at T. May.

        I am considering “her” government as the Conservatives in power since 2010 – possibly unfair as most of that is Cameron (*spit*).

        She was a member of that government though.

        I stand by the costly delays implemented by “the government”.

        I also personally think T26 orders should be expanded and T31 junked – there is no reason why other yards cannot also build T26.

  13. The Royal Australian Navy website gives the full load displacement of these ships at 8,800 tons, with loa of 149m and beam of 20.8m. Is this the same as the figure for the British ships?

    • The length and beam are the same but the Hunter looks to be about 800 tonnes heavier at full load. This isn’t unsurprising seeing as their are differences between the two designs that could cause the difference.

    • Yes on dimensions. Displacement is a bit of a moveable feast.

      As I understand it T26 has been built with significant growth margins so full load might grow over the life of a ship (I believe the QEC have the same property). To name just 2 items the RAN vessels will have an all Mk41 front silo vs the RN’s Mk41 + Sea Ceptor mixed front silo and the RAN vessels will have CEAFAR radar rather than Artisan which in both cases means, as I understand it, heavier components in the RAN vessels. Because of that I suspect that the RN T26s might possibly be lighter displacement at launch than the RAN ones but given the identical hulls I would expect the upper growth limit to be the same and depend on how each navy’s vessels evolve in terms of equipment upgrades over their service lives.

  14. I’d just like to congratulate all concerned on this deal both here and in Australia. But guys please go to the Daily Record website and see how they’re reporting this. Seriously you’ll laugh out loud.

    • Cheers David. Just read the article and had to laugh- perhaps if the SNP was not pushing IndyRef2 the UK might have paid for the frigate factory, but the ships were always going to be built in Aussie. Hopefully if Canada also selects the T26 design we can generate enough economies of scale for a few more T26’s and or at very least speed up the build.

      • Na SNP had nothing to do with the frigate factory. The key word in your statement is cost, which the UK just couldn’t afford. To make a frigate factory, they would first need to put up the price of making a number of frigates at once instead of paying for a slow build of one at a time.

        I think we are all worried that we will see the Australians build theirs much faster than ours and built them with better weaponry.

      • “Hopefully if Canada also selects the T26 design we can generate enough economies of scale for a few more T26’s and or at very least speed up the build.”

        I think that’s my only small regret on all this. Even with a few moaners complaining about not enough UK benefit make no mistake, HMG would have been desperate for BAE to win this if nothing else to help the political message about post-Brexit global Britain. As such, had it ever got to a very critical stage where the RAN had said “the decision is on a knife edge and our one big concern with T26 is risk, i.e. the slow build on the first of class RN vessel – we want your first of class in the water earlier so any significant problems are exposed at your expense and we have more time to rectify during build” then I really think HMG would have been so desperate for the win that it would have accelerated the first T26 build. Still, that ship has sailed now (or rather hasn’t, and won’t until 2027) but had that happened it would have made my joy complete.

        (Sorry for the bad pun! Is 2027 the right date for the first RN T26?)

  15. Althought these are being built in Australia, the engines, propulsion system, sonar and ASW managment suite will all be from the UK, the local content other than the radar system will be internal pipework, deck handling and mission bay equipment – whichever way this gets twisted by the media and moaners, it’s a very good peice of business for UK plc. There is no profit in steel fabrication but there is in what goes inside and will put probably the best ASW frigate in the world in the south China sea and limit the roaming of Chinese, North Korean and Iranian SSK and free up other navies assets to be elsewhere.

  16. What is the actual Mk41 count for the RAN T26 forward VLS silo? Is it being reported consistently in Australia? I’ve variously read 32, 36 and 48. That’s a big range. I would like to know what the actual number is going to be.

        • Great clear image. Thanks Steve.

          One never knows how the below-decks compartments are arranged but just looking at deck area, if there is free space below, there does seem to be space for another 16 (2 rows of 8) Mk41 forward of the Mk41 shown in image 2. I wonder whether there is any FFBNW space in that forward silo.

      • What I notice on the image is that there appears to be 8 Harpoon ASMs on the deck behind the funnels. Does anyone know if the Type 26 can be similarly equipped? I can’t find a decent picture that shows for sure.

        • David – the future RN ASM has yet to be decided from what I can make out,but when a decision is made id guess they will be silo – launched from the MK41 tubes.

    • (Chris H) Connor – RR didn’t fuck up any engine before so they won’t now. if you mean the Type 45 failures that was not an engine fault. It was a design fault in the Intercooler – Recuperator system supplied by Northrop Grumman. RR only supplied the core GT to the WR 21 system which was a concept developed earlier by Westinghouse in the USA.

      Both the RR MT30 Gas Turbines and the RR MTU diesels being used in the Type 26 have exemplary reliability records.

  17. Great News! I wonder if Australia has to order this magical special thin steel from Sweden via Dent Steel suppliers as the UK does? The Uk Liberty Steel is now investing in Australia as well as North America. If we were not in this eu (soon to leave thank God) I am sure the Donald would not slap tariffs on the UK steel sector. But that aside, this is what BAE should be doing. Sell the MoD/BMT/BAE etc design to Australia with all the export benefits, but don’t expect to build the actual ship, as we should not expect foreign firms to build any ships for the UK. BAE get their contract to fit and sell their wares, which is fair enough, but not with the UK if it means building UK taxpayer-funded ships abroad just to get their wares on board. Don’t forget, UK content of those tankers was only 25% in which much could have been foreign sourced too? Hardly any tax clawback and no invigorating of UK industry which contracts like these do, not just in the defence sector but in civil/commercial too!

    • We definitely have to invest in our steel industry to increase capability and production. Where is this long awaited steel sector deal that will reduce energy costs and taxes to put us on a level playing field with other European countries? Come on government let’s reinvigorate our steel industry as well as our shipbuilding industry.

      • Stephen – Tata Steel announced now to merge with ThyssenKrupp,whether this has any bearing I don’t know.Im always confused by the commonly used line that UK Steel producers,whilst not able to compete in quantity with other Steelmaking countries, what they do do well is the making of ‘special’ Steels.Yet when an order for say a major Warship or Submarine is made there is controversy in that the Steel has to be bought from abroad because there are no bidders from the UK or even there is no-one here that actually makes said ‘special’ steel.As someone who worked with the stuff for 20 years I’m aware thet you wouldn’t contemplate building a Type 26 with your bog standard Mild Steel plate but would love to know what is actually used.

        • Definitely. The government launched a report of the future capabilities and capacities of British steel making and came to the right conclusions, we should make more of the of steel we use (we currently make 4.4 million tonnes of the 9.4 million tonnes we use) and increase our capability (more different types of steel). They also correctly recognized we have to reduce energy costs, taxes, etc. to put us on a level playing field with other European countries. This was back in December 2017 and we are still waiting.

          This is just what we need to reinvigorate our steel making industry which is a vital foundation of a nation’s economy (used for car making, ship building, railways, construction, etc.). Come on U.K. government let us have this long awaited steel sector deal.

        • This is a recent problem, but standard mild steel can have better fatigue properties than high yield or HT type steels in some cases. I think this is a recent problem that Liberty steel will address in the future as we never had this problem before. BAE and dent is the problem and their deals they are doing. We do have the capability but something else is going on here. Similar to the decision about the tankers going abroad years before the official decision, then all the excuses after, I think this is the case with steel and we are having the wool (probably not British too) pulled over our eyes.

          • Agree, far from supporting British heavy industry they deliberately work against it at every opportunity in every field.

            End this war against British heavy industry and start supporting it and investing in it, like other European countries do.

  18. Maybe after the mess that the jocks have made of new coastal patrol ship (glued bolt heads etc )we should be thinking of the Aussies building our type 26s .
    Also what about that retired admiral complaining about NHS getting £20billion and getting our priorities wrong!
    He doesn’t live in the same universe as me, if you don’t look after the health of your people you aren’t civilised like we often accuse the Russians of.

  19. Britain being “miffed” that Australia will have more Type 26’s than itself is not what Britain thinks at all! They are very pleased that Australia has chosen the remarkable Type 26 Frigate and are overjoyed at their announcement! Now if Canada would only decide on the Type 26 for their 15 CSC’s, that will really vindicate the BAE Type 26!!!

    • David – winning the Canadian CSC contract really would be the icing on the cake,its just a shame the T26 was too late for the FFG(X) programme for the US,i wonder if there is any wriggle room in the bidding process though as a joint US/Canadian build would surely be beneficial in economies etc.

  20. We need to expand our exports. Type 31e is specifically designed for export. It would be a much harder sell if we didnt have any ourselves, and the hull wouldnt be tried and tested, teething problems corrected. The RN needs numbers, and since we cannot afford to have our most capable platforms in numbers, this may prove to be a very useful ship. We could take pressure of our more advanced platforms by fulfilling the many RN duties and obligations spread all over the world whilst also boosting diplomatic relations at a crucial time and sustaining our shipbuilding capacity.

    I hope their war fighting capaility isnt sacrificed for cost.

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