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 successor programme to the build 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 warships. 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 Prime Minister has confirmed that all new frigates mentioned in the defence review will be built in Scotland.
David Cameron told the Commons that the new class of frigates, now referred to as the Type 31, would be “more affordable” than the Type 26 which will “allow us to buy more of them for the Royal Navy so that by the 2030s we can further increase the total number of Royal Navy frigates and destroyers.”