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Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has confirmed the Type 26 Frigate order on the Clyde and revealed that steel will be cut in Summer.

Work on building eight Type 26 frigates at Clyde shipyards will begin the summer of 2017, the defence secretary has announced.

Michael Fallon said the date for cutting the first steel would help secure new investment and safeguard hundreds of skilled jobs until 2035.

An £859m deal to build the ships on the Clyde was signed in February 2015, with the delay in actually cutting steel on the vessels being down to funding issues.

The Defence Secretary also announced that the MoD plans to sign a contract shortly to start building of the last two of five additional Offshore Patrol Vessels pledged in the SDSR, both of which will be delivered in 2019, protecting jobs on the Clyde before the start of the Type 26 programme gets fully under way.

The news safeguards 6000 jobs and £163 million in wages for the workforce.

The announcement confirms claims that orders on the Clyde have now increased over what was previously promised with the Clyde building 5 Offshore Patrol vessels, 8 Type 26 Frigates and “at least” 5 Type 31 Frigates. That’s 18 ships compared to the 13 originally promised.

Showing further commitment to the Type 26 programme, the Defence Secretary also announced a £100 million contract with MBDA to deliver the Sea Ceptor self-defence missile system for the ship.

According to a press release, the contract will support design work, allow equipment to be manufactured to equip the entire Type 26 fleet, and install the system on the first three ships.

This follows a £183 million investment in the Maritime Indirect Fire System, the Type 26’s 5-inch calibre gun earlier in the summer.

The Type 26 frigate represents the future backbone of the Royal Navy and a massive leap forward in terms of flexibility of surface vessels enjoyed by the service.

The vessel will replace 8 of the Anti-Submarine Type 23 frigates of the Royal Navy and 5 general purpose Type 31 Frigates will replace the remaining Type 23’s. The Clyde will build 13 frigates in total, in addition to 5 Offshore Patrol vessels.

During a visit to the Govan in Glasgow today, Mr Fallon said:

“Backed by Britain’s rising defence budget, the Type 26 Programme will deliver a new generation of cutting-edge warships for our Royal Navy at best value for taxpayers. The UK government’s commitment today will secure hundreds of high-skilled shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde for at least two decades and hundreds more in the supply chain across Britain.”

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said:

“This is a momentous commitment for Scotland that will strengthen and secure our shipbuilding industry on the Clyde for the future. The UK government is backing jobs on the Clyde and in its shipyards – and this investment is only possible because of the broad shoulders of our strong UK defence budget.”

The number of planned new frigates has already been scaled back from from 13 to eight, although the MoD has the option to build five smaller and cheaper general-purpose vessels.

The programme has been underway since 1998, initially under the name ‘Future Surface Combatant’. The programme was brought forward in the 2008 budget at the expense of Type 45 destroyers 7 and 8.

This news has silenced alarming headlines earlier in the year claiming the frigates had been “indefinitely postponed”. Unions had also insisted that there would be no redundancies as a result of uncertainty over the Type 26 build timetable on the Clyde. Minister Harriet Baldwin faced calls from SNP and Labour MPs to confirm a date for cutting steel on the frigates but said it would be “inappropriate” to do so as negotiations continued.

Peter Roberts, Senior Research Fellow for Sea Power and Maritime Studies at RUSI has said referring to the commitment of the government to the Clyde:

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

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 (in addition to three already in build) 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.

Commenting on this important development Ian King, Chief Executive, BAE Systems, said:

“Today’s announcement secures a strong foundation for the next two decades of shipbuilding at our facilities in Scotland. It is a vote of confidence in our employees’ capabilities in the design, construction, integration and commissioning of warships.”

The UK Government committed to eight advanced anti-submarine warfare ships in its 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, in addition to ive general purpose frigates and five patrol vessels.

Manufacturing contracts are already in place for the procurement of major equipment for the first batch of three ships, supporting progress to the full manufacturing programme in Glasgow.

According to BAE, there are 27 companies in the supply chain working with BAE Systems to deliver the Type 26 ships, with manufacturing of the ships’ air weapons handling systems, gas turbines, and electric propulsion motor and drive systems underway across the UK.

Today’s announcement provides BAE Systems and the UK Government with the confidence to continue to progress export campaigns for the Type 26 ‘Global Combat Ship’ with other navies around the world with similar requirements, including Canada and Australia.

The original planning assumption for the Royal Navy was for thirteen Type 26 Frigates (eight ASW and five General Purpose), replacing the Type 23 frigate fleet like-for-like.

However, it was later announced during the November 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review by then Prime minister David Cameron that only eight Type 26 Frigates would be going ahead with the funding for the remaining five general purpose Type 26 frigates is instead to be spent on developing a new class of lighter and more affordable general purpose frigate, the Type 31.

Then Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed to the House of Commons that both frigate types will be built on the Clyde:

“There will be eight of the Type 26’s and at least another five of the new type of frigate, probably more, and they can be built in Scotland if the conditions are right. The only way these ships wouldn’t be built in Scotland is if Scotland was independent and didn’t have the national resources of the Royal Navy.

Due to an expected lower cost, the government suggested it may allow an eventual increase in the total number of frigates in the Royal Navy. This general purpose frigate will be designated as the Type 31 frigate.

It is understood that the Type 26 Frigate will primarily support carrier task group operations while the Type 31 is to be deployed for a range of less high-tempo operations.

The Type 26 will be an adaptable, powerful and flexible frigate with a wide array of cutting edge sensors and weapons designed to help it effectively and efficiently meet the evolving mission requirements inherent to modern warfare.

16 COMMENTS

  1. 13 frigates is less than the minimum requirement. UK should have at least 30 surface combatants. The amount of type 45 destroyers should be doubled to the origanally promised 12. Promises with these people mean very little.

  2. I hope the type 26 will be based in Devonport and one will be named HMS Plymouth. Plymouth deserves this after the shameful treatment of the last Plymouth, the vessel that had taken the surrender in the Falklands.

  3. Whilst this is no doubt good news, I am skeptical as we keep hearing from the government about the ‘increase in the defence budget’, yet we don’t see any increase in escort hull numbers; just 5 OPVs that the RN doesn’t want and which really only represent an increase of 2 as the RN isn’t allowed to keep the 3 batch 1 OPVs they already have. Add to that we are trading 13 Type 23s for 8 Type 26s ASW hulls and 5 Type 31 GP hulls with ‘significantly less capability’. I grant only 8 of the Type 23s carry Sonar 2087 but the proposal from the government seems to be trading what we have now for less in the future – and much later in the future at that. If we are getting a genuine increase in the defence budget as we are being told at every opportunity, then how about investing in additional hulls and the manpower to crew them that the RN desperately needs. That would then stand testament to the government’s claim to taking defence seriously and reflect a true and tangible increase in spending.

  4. It’s good that the Type 26’s are actually going to be start to be built within months, they will provide an important component of future carrier and amphibious ops as well as being capable of self deploying for extended periods.
    The OPV’s will provide a useful additional capability in terms of policing roles such as the West Indies patrol vessel which will take pressure of the rest of the fleet.

    • The OPVs are under-armed and woefully overpriced and the Navy doesn’t want them. Don’t be surprised if you see some – if not all – sold off at some point in the future.

      • OPV’s are a total waste of money. For the same money that we are spending wastefully now we could be building a world class navy for the future

        2 Carriers (£8bn)
        12 T26 Air Defence Destroyers (£12bn)
        12 T31 ASW Frigates (£7.2bn)
        12 T81 GPF Frigates (£6bnm)
        8 Joint Support Ships (See Karel Doorman class) – £2bn
        8 Fast Fleet Tankers – £2bn
        4 Specialist ship – £1bn
        10 Astute class SSN – £15bn
        4 Successor SSBN – £ 16bn

        In addition to this we will need a small ship fleet of
        64 Patrol Boats – £640m (Safeboats Mark6)
        64 MHVC UMV – 128m (CB90H)
        128 Combat Boats – £300m (Atlas Arcims)
        128 Pacific 24 Ribs – £32m

        The total for all of this equates to £2.5bn p.a. spread over 50 years (1 CVF build – 50 year lifespan)

        £9bn p.a. out of a £40bn + budget hardly seems a lot to provide a navy that can actually conduct the activities its country is asking it to. This figure also includes paying our service people properly.

        Its about time we get value for money from our military leadership as they are letting everyone down.

  5. Gosh, we haven’t already got the cut steal yet? This mob couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery. With all the money wasted on military projects and the dilly dallying and indecision going on we could have a vessel made already and a billon pound destroyer at that.

  6. Why is it that every time good new comes out of the M.O.D. people start to moan and find fault. I feel that I ‘m living on a different planet. Orders for the air force, army and navy have been non stop over the last year or so, and what’s more, they make sense. The U.K. is developing a new 21st role for it’s self with first rate equipment being delivered to the first rate people who use it.

    • @Geoffrey Roach

      I cannot disagree with your comments on the logic, but the scale is just not there, either for our forces or to sustain an industrial base.

      People are happy that orders are being placed. they are unhappy that we are below minimum size (25% smaller military than France on a bigger budget), under strength and constantly on deployment.

      I for one do not like to see our forces deployed without the tools they need, and as a nation we keep doing that and we should be ashamed of doing so.

      This is not only a personal opinion it is based on facts derived from several coroners.

      I also object to us having a foreign aid budget of £10bn when we do not even pay our service personnel minimum wage, this is simply outrageous.

      This is why the ex service community are frustrated and worried and expressing their frustration.

      • Pacman 27

        Spot on. Agree with every single comment.

        The armed forces are getting run into the ground while HM government continue wanting to act like a major power, which is fine as the UK is a P5 member which I support.
        However, these increases are matched by constant cuts elsewhere. The army reorganisation that is incoming is just another cut to the list!
        The 2% of GDP on defence was reached by some serious fudging of the books to reach that total, while billions are flooded away on overseas aid. And don’t get me started on the EU!
        National disgrace, sadly most of Joe Public are not bothered or blissfully unaware if they do not follow defence matters.

      • @ Pacman27

        I couldn’t agree with you more. If the government decides they want to be a player on the global stage – which clearly this government has – then they SHOULD be placing equipment orders. The problem is they have not been doing so commensurate with what our Armed Forces are being tasked to do and so it’s being done far too late and on the cheap. To be said player on the world stage comes at a price – pay to play! I also question the value for money the British tax payer gets for the funding we do have. We are constantly told we have the 5th largest defence budget in the world – well, we don’t appear have the equipment mass to reflect that! Other countries seem to get much more for the same or less. Finally, I find it unforgivable that the Overseas Aid budget is as outrageously high as it is whilst defence has to beg for every penny they get from the Treasury.

        • @david

          I believe the budget probably is big enough, there seems to be a lack of focus on what we buy allied to an incompetence in defining requirements and sequencing those purchases.

          Realistically the Defence budget needs to be circa 2.5% of GDP (£50bn). We are known in the international community as ‘the borrowers’ which seems farcical given our budget, yet it is clearly the case that we have outdated equipment and a penchant for wasting money.

          Instead of having a life extension programme for challenger, why not just buy new tanks – it will be cheaper in the long run.

          The same for T26 buy more and cancel the silly OPV orders.

      • I do agree with your comments about scale. Perhaps we will finally learn that we can only deploy with the equipment we actually have, not what is thought to be there! Similarly, the overseas aid budget should about raising standards of care but also based on the recipient political attitudes and their willingness to move forward in partnership to improve their DEMOCRATIC credentials.

        Pacman, David , Jack and yours truly. We have at least four of us on the same wavelength!

    • Geoffrey, I couldn’t agree more, we are seeing some real and substantial investment in our forces at the moment it seems some churlish people simply don’t wish to acknowledge that.
      But this is the bottom bit of the internet so we can’t expect constructive, informed debate from everyone.
      The shouty whingers some times drown out more reasoned posters.

  7. 8 Type 26 Frigates is laughable at best.. 13 was already insulting.. You know the Royal Navy should consist of at least 30 Type 26’s and at least 20 Type 45. The UK’s Navy is a real joke too the world, where once there was fear, and and sense of global respect too her. Now we are being contested by the likes of China India, Japan, and Russia for supremacy of the sea’s…

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