A report claims that delays in the construction of the Type 26 Frigate have had a negative impact on the development of the workforce on the Clyde.

The recently released report ‘Restoring the Fleet: Naval Procurement and the National Shipbuilding Strategy’, states that:

“It is clear to us that the delays in the construction of the Type 26 have had a negative impact on the development of the workforce on the Clyde.

Apprenticeships are not being offered at the necessary rate, and those currently undertaking apprenticeships are having their skills training disrupted. Furthermore, workers are being required to move from Scotland to Barrow in order for them to undertake meaningful work.

We welcome the efforts made by the trades unions and BAE to retain the workforce during this period of uncertainty, but remain deeply concerned by warnings that further delay could be “catastrophic” for the skills base.”

The report also states:

“The decision to build the OPVs in advance of the Type 26 also has an impact on the workforce. Duncan McPhee, Manual Convenor (Scotstoun), Unite, told us that while he welcomed the work the additional orders would bring, it should not be seen as a replacement for the delays in the Type 26 programme.

Mr McPhee also highlighted the fact that the absence of work on the Type 26 was undermining the ability to provide apprenticeships. Following the start of the construction phase of the Carrier programme, BAE was recruiting 100 apprentices a year.”

The report adds:

“This was important to the industry as it both brought in new entrants and lowered the age profile of the workforce. Furthermore, that throughput of apprentices played a key role in sustaining the appropriate level of skills for the longer-term. By contrast, only 20 apprentices would be recruited in 2016 and Mr McPhee asserted that this was ‘solely because of the decision to move the Type 26 to a later date’.

We are going to recruit 20 this year, and there are steelworkers who started last August who we have now had to switch to other trades. Fortunately, we are keeping them within the business, but in all my time in shipbuilding, I have never known apprentices to start with one trade and then, six months later, have to switch to another one. They were brought in because we thought we would be working on the steelwork for the Type 26. That is the impact on training and young people.”

Michael Fallon told BBC Radio Scotland:

“Nobody is shortchanging the Clyde. This is a huge moment for the Clyde; we’re confirming we’re going ahead with the steel cut next summer, earlier than expected. The first eight will be the Type 26 combat ships. After that, we will be building a lighter frigate and we will end up with a fleet that is larger than the fleet at the moment.”

Responding to earlier speculation that the work could go elsewhere, Fallon dismissed this by saying:

“BAE will be in pole position [for that contract]. They’re the principal warship builder.”

 

The first of the five new vessels, HMS Forth, is expected to be handed over to the Royal Navy in 2017. The Offshore Patrol Vessels have been ordered to fill a gap in orders after the second carrier and before the Type 26 frigates begin construction.

19 COMMENTS

  1. To be fair, whilst there may be an increase to what was promised on the Clyde, i think ultimately the Royal Navy has been massively shafted by the Government…Again. The Royal Navy yet again will have to settle for lower operational capability with fewer capable hulls and extra ‘pirate/smuggler hunters’… The carrier group will sap much of our capable surface fleet thus minimising the flexibility yet again of our already tiny fleet.

    • The Armed Forces in general – but the RN in particular – have been shafted for years by successive governments and this one is no different. Frankly, the British tax payer is also shafted as we get a terrible ROI on the defence budget. I blame to a large extent BAE as they are truly the only ship builder we have left – and they know it. Therefore they charge whatever they like (eg 348M for three OPVs that are essentially useless and the RN never asked for or wanted!).

      I understand the need to maintain jobs and a skills base in the UK but not at any cost. If the likes of BAE can’t be competitive and give the taxpayer value for money, then we build hulls cheaply e.g. in South Korea and fit all the weapons, communications gear etc., in the UK. I promise we would get a much larger fleet for the same money.

      Something seriously needs to change and quick before it is too late. If ‘Falklands II’ happened now, well….. the Islanders better have a Spanish dictionary handy!

        • Rob – I was speaking hypothetically; cast your mind back a few short years and Argentina was working to build a ‘coalition’ of South American countries against us regarding the Falklands to the point where RN ships were denied docking permission in some South American countries. A future conflict with any such coalition is not out of the realm of possibility. Remember we are ‘supposed’ to plan for the worst; should the unlikely happen, it wouldn’t go well! If the Argentines et al were smart, they’d just wait until 2018 when we have no operational carriers and NO anti ship missiles!

          • I think you have sort of forgotten the massive investment in defence capabilities in the Falklands post ’82. Maybe UK Defence Journal has an article somewhere? We actually do not need a carrier force to liberate the Falklands as you assume because the Argies will never get within 100 miles of those islands. Assuming they have any ships or aircraft left.

      • Building hulls cheaply in South Korea hasn’t gone terribly well so far with the RFA’s, not to mention the fact there shipbuilders are in financial dire straights. What we need is a truly sustainable shipbuilding industry, both Naval and Commercial. I’d rather pay a bit more and have that level of strategic security rather than relying on anyone else for our most important national assets.

  2. Is it just me or do I smell SNP activity here (again) and is anyone else getting fed up to the eye teeth with constant Scottish moaning and criticism and doomladen forecasts? There are other places in the UK just as capable and just as keen for work and would bite the MoDs arm off for a sniff. And BAE will do as their paymasters and future prosperity tell them.

    And if the Jocks are really miffed they should ponder what they would be experiencing had they been independent since March this year. HMS QE would have been towed away to wherever (Belfast I would suggest) for completion, OPVs and Type 26 and 31? Built in England. For sure I was surprised the PoW blocks were sent to Rosyth a week before the Independence referendum to be trapped in a dry dock in a potentially foreign country. Had they voted to leave who would have owned those useless blocks of ship? For sure the Scots could never have finished them.

    Personally I think we should call Ms Krankie’s bluff and tell her that unless she stops her calls for another referendum we will never build another ship in Scotland. And also pull Faslane down to Cumbria into the bargain. New P-8 Poseidon? Base them in Northern Ireland where the Trident subs leave UK waters. Let the chill wind of financial reality blow through the SNP.

    • I don’t believe for minute that we are building the ships on the Clyde to appease the SNP. It really is probably the best place in the UK to build them. True, that while the SNP and indeed all nationalists are extremely difficult to do business with, i believe the Scottish people are beginning to see past the bluster and negative rhetoric of the SNP. They are hardly doing a great job of managing the Scottish economy with the powers they have and it would be wise to focus on issues internally within the Scottish economy rather than simplistically pointing the fingers at Westminster constantly. The Clyde has an excellent deal, the people working there know they do, but the Royal Navy are the ones left wanting here, with poorly armed ships with limited capability. On the issue of the referendum, i’ll be amazed if there is one, but opinion seems to suggest the outcome will be no different to before and with the SNP’s running of Scotland its hard to see how their position has improved despite Brexit since their last independence referendum in 2014…

      • Well I agree the SNP are making a hash of Scotland (and the English are picking up a £15 Bn tab for it!) but it appears Ms Krankie is hell bent on fracturing North South relationships. Apparently her Lord Advocate now has the right to ‘intervene’ in the Supreme court and believes the Scottish Parliament has the right to veto the Brexit vote.

        Now one hopes their Lord and Ladyships will see sense and uphold the Appeal but if they don’t and the Scots are allowed to block Brexit they may well be getting their Independence quicker than they wish and the discussion on ships on the Clyde will be academic.

        Regardless of where we stand on Remain / Leave the UK majority cannot be held to ransom by less than 8% of the UK population.

    • Define ‘massive’ investment?? Four typhoons, a few obsolete rapier batteries and a battalion or so hardly qualifies. I agree that Argentina is in a worse state than in ’82 but that is not what I said. They were actively trying to build a South American coalition against us a few years back that combined would present a serious challenge to the current depleted RN. Maybe UK Defence Journal has an article somewhere?

  3. Well, Sir John Parker delivered the strategy to the government a week ago, apparently they are now ‘considering’/burying it – some speculation in the FT

  4. I would not get any uk ships built on the Clyde they want to stay in the EU and most of the scots want a Hard border between scotland Nicola Sturgeon has previously confirmed she is looking at the options of the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area.
    Opposition parties have warned against any proposals which could end free trade within the UK.
    Commenting on the poll findings, Robert Struthers from BMG Research, said: “An astonishing proportion of Scots would be comfortable with a hard border between Scotland and the rest of the UK if it meant the country could stay within the EU. I would cut them off We need the Uk to build ships at a alarming rate we could get a new design on the drawing boards and scrap the plans for type 26 and Type 31 Get Nigel Farage to talk to trump and get his ship yards to build are ships with better armament

    • Like the LCS/Frigate? Scotland cannot afford independence, the U.K. is indefensible without a secure Scottish coastline. The SNP are fools and charlatans.

      It’s not a sprint …

  5. Let’s be clear, it has not had a negative effect on the Clyde! They are building irrelevant OPV’s to replace OPV’s that don’t need replacing, let’s be completely honest the original Rivers were pointless to begin with. These new OPV’s are astonishingly expensive, a stop gap and drain on limited available resources. We need a total rethink on how we deliver future Warships, we could start with defined fundamental requirements, build hulls capable of rapid change and set short build timeframes. Taking 20 bloody years to deliver a potential design is beyond piss take! Let alone the massive flaws in ship capability once delivered. The whole process needs a size 12 boot up its @rse!

    • I think that just about covers it Mike…. ‘Thumbs Up’

      We should take a Yank design they have proven and licence build it here. Even building tankers in Korea has gone arse up….

        • The Freedom Class. What the Yanks call an ‘LCS’ and we call a Frigate @ 3,900 Te. It could do everything a Type 26 can do with the same kit and is very similar to what we know about the Type 31. It can reach 45 Knots powered by 2 RR MT30 turbines and 4 RR water jet systems, BAE even supply the automatic gunnery system and other warfare kit and it carries a ‘Seahawk’ which is like a larger Wildcat. 3 years from keel laying to commissioning and been in operation for 8 years and now works. the Yanks have debugged it so why do we need to debug our own design? What is not to like?

          The problems we seem to face here in the UK is we take ages to decide what we need, take something off a drawing board, add more kit, delay building so we add more kit and then when we do build it we have to cut corners because we already wasted so much money. I give you the Type 45 which dislikes warm climates but is otherwise a world beater.

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