The Government have revealed that 50% of the steel (by value) for the Batch 1 Type 26 frigates will be British.

The reason for this, according to the government, is that the UK can’t produce the majority of steel types required.

65% of the steel for the frigates by volume rather than value will come from overseas.

Stuart Andrew, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, recently revealed in a response to a written question:

“The Ministry of Defence does not hold a central record of the origin of all steel used in defence equipment projects. This is because steel for our major programmes is mainly sourced by our prime contractors and the supply chains are complex.

UK suppliers have, however, made a significant contribution to the supply of steel for some of our largest defence equipment projects, including 88% of the structural steel for the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers and 50% of the value of the steel required for the Batch 1 Type 26 frigates.

The specialist nature of some of our steel requirements means that UK steel producers do not always have the capability to supply our programmes.

This Government is committed to creating the right conditions in the UK for a competitive and sustainable steel industry. It publishes its future pipeline for steel requirements, together with data on how Departments are complying with steel procurement guidance on: www.gov.uk/government/publications/steel-public-procurement.”

BAE explained to the UK Defence Journal recently that the programme requires a considerable proportion of ‘thin plate’ steel due to the nature of the warship.

This thin plate steel cannot be sourced from UK steel suppliers.

A spokesperson told us:

“The steel we procure must meet the very specific technical specifications for the complex warships we deliver, as well as meet our customers’ needs in terms of availability timeframes and budgets. We are pleased to confirm that, following an open competitive bid process, Yorkshire based Dent Steel UK has been selected to source steel for the first three Type 26 ships.

Steel for the Type 26 programme sourced by Dent Steel UK will come principally from mills in the UK and Sweden which can meet the very specific requirements for the warships. Approximately fifty percent of the value of steel for the first three Type 26 ships will be British; this equates to around 35% of the overall weight”.

BAE Systems advises that it ran an open and competitive process in line with UK government legislation and UK companies were invited to bid. Dent Steel UK based in Yorkshire has been selected to supply steel for the Type 26 programme.

80
Leave a Reply

avatar
15 Comment threads
65 Thread replies
38 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
34 Comment authors
Lee1DarrenExpatGunbusterPaul.P Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Sad state of affairs that the Uk can no longer produce the steel for its warships….

Levi Goldsteinberg
Guest
Levi Goldsteinberg

Sad, or inevitable? Unless you fancy subsidising industry (which is only a short-term fix) like the US, the end of low-end industry in developed economies is a certainty

Marc
Guest
Marc

I would rather do that then subsidise opera seats for the elite who have allowed this sad state of affairs to happen.

Darren
Guest
Darren

Low end and subsidised from Sweden? You are speaking BS!

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

It does make some steel for its warships. But not some specific steels are not avsilable. Should we build a complete mill to build just a few types of ships.

When will people wake up to the fact that we are a small country, not a complete continental sized country like USA, Canada, Australia who have masses of raw materials.

Our raw materials are our brains, our ingenuity.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Trevor/Levi,

Up until the recent past we were able to make the specialised steels, my memories from the late 80’s were that all/most of the specialised steels needed were produced in Scotland (Ravenscraig works) which was one of the few profitable areas of British steel… I remember steel for the vanguard SSBN’s and challenger tanks being produced, then the plates being send to the clydebridge works for further work…
Such a shame all we can manage now is basic non specialised steels….

Mike
Guest
Mike

To add to your comment the article states that steel will come from Sweden. A much smaller nation than the UK. If they can compete internationally then so can the UK.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@Mike – Well we do compete and compete well internationally. We even sell thousands of tons of steel to the USA and Canada. We are the 18th largest steel exporter in the world.
But as always the presumption amongst so many people is that we don’t or can’t. And the reason given is ‘cos we are British and insignificant’. Which is both defeatist and wrong

Mike
Guest
Mike

Very well said. My comment was meant as a counter to this comment by Trevor “When will people wake up to the fact that we are a small country, not a complete continental sized country like USA, Canada, Australia who have masses of raw materials.”

Darren
Guest
Darren

Raw materials have nothing to do with it. Does Sweden have masses of raw materials? Steel is not a raw material! Small Country in what way? Population or land mass?

Levi Goldsteinberg
Guest
Levi Goldsteinberg

They also subsidise their industry

Darren
Guest
Darren

No. you are wrong! here we go again pre 2007! But at least before 2007 we supplied more of the material. The Brains and ingenuity are just the few too. For f***s sake, give me strenght.

Darren
Guest
Darren

It can and it does.

Brom
Guest
Brom

Seems a bit daft having a policy that warships must be built in the UK whilst not having the resources and ability to make something as vital as the right steel. Steel making infrastructure is as vital as the ship building infrastructure. Maybe more so.

david
Guest
david

As long as some countries are manufacturing steel for half the price of the UK and flooding the market, we cannot compete. love how it was said “by value” – which equates to “35% by weight”!

Subatomic
Guest
Subatomic

What about Australia or Canada. Can they produce the steel we can’t?

TwinTiger
Guest
TwinTiger

Into the next decade, it would be entirely appropriate if this sort of cross-support for materials and components (beyond the bespoke specialist items) are explored by the current 3 Governments and appropriate agreements set up to do just this.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

But it is just not economically viable to produce all the steels needed. In fact it is not economically viable to produce much steel at all right now. Should we also produce all the rest of the materials? Many people on here complain of things like this not being built in the UK yet probably buy barely any British produced goods themselves. If you want Britain to produce everything then you need to buy British goods where they are available.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Britain is still in the top ten nations that manufacture and export lots of great products. Shame we don’t build warships for sale these days, we were great at that once upon a time, but I suppose countries just need to wait until we sell our old warships for penny’s.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Yep, but very few Brits buy British products. Look at all the cars on the road for instance. Look at the Headphones people use? Etc.

We were great at selling warships and civilian ships until the unions pushed the wages so high that they became too expensive. Raising the wages is fine until you reach the point that you price yourselves out of the market and you then have no job at all…

BB85
Guest
BB85

I don’t think wages where ever the issue in ship building but productivity. The unions fought against as much automation as they could and did as little as possible to increase productivity. The joke in Belfast was that by the time the welders go their tools in order it was time for tea and they didn’t actually start work until 11 after clocking in at 9. They stopped at 12 and didn’t start again until 1. That culture prob still exists to an extent.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Yep I agree. Wages were part of the problem, productivity was the other. The issue is still present. In teaching for example there are teachers that are particularly hard-line union peeps who pretty much refuse to do anything that will improve the outcomes for pupils. The other teachers have to pick up the slack and end up leaving. The school then ends up with only the hardliners and they are practically impossible to sack as the union threatens legal action at every step of the way. The union would rather protect terrible teachers than look after the future of our… Read more »

Marc
Guest
Marc

Things are changing slowly but surely,in my particular yard the management have got rid of a lot of deadwood and good riddance to them,but they have replaced them with foreign labour which are a lot cheaper and are not held to the same standard as we are,not running them down but it is not a level playing field between the full time guys and the foreign contractors.

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Simple we had 12 unions in shipbuilding all based on a Dort of caste system if one agreed a wage deal all those ‘above’ it would expect agreements to maintain the differential those below would want to have increases so as to not fall behind. Like the Fourth Bridge the moment you completed the machinations and complexity of all this, it was time to start again while you can guarantee that each craft union would seldom agree with the others as to what represented a true and fair balance between them in their demands. Inevitably industrial disputes would break out… Read more »

Marc
Guest
Marc

We just ruined an industry not a whole country like the bankers did in 2007/2008.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

I beg to differ. The ship building industry was huge and so its demise affected all parts of UK life due the massive supply chain.

Marc
Guest
Marc

I get your point, but whilst the demise of shipbuilding industry in this country was difficult and expensive for the communities involved,mine included,it didn’t cost the country and taxpayers billions in bailouts the effect we are still feeling now and will do for the foreseeable future and they will expect us to bale them out again soon,Deutsche Bank is a case in point.

Marc
Guest
Marc

I work in the shipbuilding industry,i and my colleagues have not had a net wage increase since at least 2012

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

I am not talking about recently. The shipbuilding industry effectively died decades ago. I mean there are lots of people who have not had a pay rise in the last few years.

Darren
Guest
Darren

Because they don’t have a fuckin choice to buy british, because it’s all gone doh!

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Well that is very odd… I have a British made car, I have British Hifi components, British Headphones, British Speakers, I Have British computers, With a new one also on the way too, etc etc. We make a lot of stuff and there are things we do not make but we design and have the companies based in the UK. People do not buy it though because it costs more.

david
Guest
david

We used to have “buy British” campaigns back in the 80’s. Maybe after Brexit we can start that again.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

People are not interested. My dad is a very hard-line Brexit supporter (much to my annoyance) to the point that he just wants to leave asap no matter how much damage it does (his words). Yet he has just recently bought a new car and that car is not built in the UK…. I tried to get him to buy a British made car like mine but there was zero interest in that as the British cars were more money and he certainly does not want anything to impact his money even if it means supporting the country… He has… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Yes I did find it somewhat amusing that a Brexit supporter on a phone-in to an expert on 5Live a while back with the option of asking my question he wished was most desperate to know if it was likely to delay his Merc being delivered.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@Brom – because the UK does not produce every piece of equipment for a particular ship does not in any way negate the economic case for building ships here. If we bought a Frigate from Italy do people really believe every part in it would be Italian? And ‘steel’ is not a fixed commodity there are thousands of different specification steels used in industries and not every country produces every one. Not even China. What we never hear about are the exports of steels that ARE produced here (we are the 18th largest steel exporter) – British Steel is currently… Read more »

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

This is true.
But…specialised steels should be the sort of expertise we try and retain. Particularly high value added ones.

For the people frothing at the mouth on this one what they should really be upset about is our inability to produce propellants since BAE shut the last plant down years ago….now that is shocking.The last one, ROF Bridgwater closed in 2008…

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

agreed

Martin
Guest
Martin

It’s been like this for atleast 100 years, major reason the lion class battleship’s were never built was a shortage steel armour especially after 1938 when the skoda works was taken over by the nazis.

Why does no one care that the microprocessors onboard are made in the USA and the plastic moulding in China.

Steel is an increasingly less useful material and yet it still politically seen as something important.

Expat
Guest
Expat

The hull cost of a T26 is something like 8% of the value of the ship. Do we really want to be focusing our investment efforts on commodities like Steel. The systems on these ships are far more exportable and could create better higher paid jib for people than steel manufacturing better to focus our effort where we can compete and win.

Andy
Guest

To be totally honest I am unfortunately sceptical that we can continue to build warships in the UK if we do not augment our defense shipbuilding industry commercially. I do not believe that the tonnage forecasted to be ordered from the Royal navy is sufficient enough to warrant the cost of maintaining ship yards and ensuring the skilled work force retained and trained. The continuity of the skilled work force is Paramount. It is of course a buyer’s market. Taiwan for instance has a class of 700 ton Corvettes ( Tuo Chiang) with stealth capability designed primarily to destroy large… Read more »

Paul Bestwick
Guest
Paul Bestwick

The batch 1 is in build and the orders placed. Has any work gone on with industry to improve the percentage for the next batch and what steels are required for the various Type 31 designs.

farouk
Guest
farouk

The key statement here is:
The Government have revealed that 50% of the steel (by value)

Which is how the political elites inform the great unwashed that the British flagship Type 26 Frigate program (which is meant to save the British ship building industry) contains only 35% British made steel, this less than a week after British steel went into receivership. This is what happens when you have MPs more concerned about those who hate us than those who they are paid to represent.

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

If you seriously think 8 Type 26’s using around 50,000 tonnes of steel built over a 10 year period was designed to save the British Steel industry you’re absolutely barking mad….

We make 8,000,000 tonnes per year of the stuff…

The T26 would be 2 days prodution…

farouk
Guest
farouk

I didn’t say save the steel industry, I stated Ship building industry.

Cam
Guest
Cam

We invented god dam STEEL!!. And the government should nationalise British steel! And protect it! We used to have hundreds of blast furnaces now we have hardly any!. Why can’t the government protect our heavy industry! If we nationalise it and it only makes a small profit then why not!! And when the government sold all our heavy industry ect off why not just keep it?, if the company’s who bought it make money why wouldn’t the government? Oh yeah they can’t run a bath properly! But they could employ people who are clever…

Blackivar
Guest
Blackivar

Just a technicality, but we did not invent steel. Steel has been made since 1800BC at least. We invented the modern Bessemer process of steel production. However, your point stands, it would be better to have steel production publicly owned, rather than in the hands of venture capitalists. One would assume in any post Brexit world – that this might be an option, or more than likely the government will invent new excuses rather than blame the EU subsidy rules. Given that nearly all parties agree infrastructure investment is desperately need to drive the economy, surely it would be sensible… Read more »

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

And who is going to buy the steel that your nationalised steel company produces? Steel that would be over priced unsalable and just stockpiled.

Why do you think our factories are struggling. Other countries are producing steel cheaper than we can. No one wants to buy our steel. Indeed no one wants steel anyway. Demand and production has been falling.

How much endless debt do you want to pile onto the taxpayer?

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

How do France, Germany, Italy and Spain find someone to buy their steel? (much, much, more than we produce too).

Blackivar
Guest
Blackivar

British steel in not uncompetitive, nor is it unprofitable. It has suffered, in the case of Scunthorpe, from the uncertainty surrounding Brexit losing several key contracts, but it is viable and the industry will no doubt recover. For a product “no one wants”, the UK domestic market requires around 10-11million tonnes a year. We currently produce 7million tonnes, we export 3million tonnes of that. Without British steel (the firm, not the product) Port Talbot will be the only UK site making steel from scratch. 97% of network rail’s steel comes from the UK. A large section of the defence sector… Read more »

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

During the early 1990’s, BMW used specialised steel, produced at British Steel Ravenscraig works, for the manufacture of their car ranges… through incompetence/politics/dreadful management British steel decided to concentrate on the higher quantities/lower quality steels, which the mills in Asia could produce cheaper and to better standards… no wonder the steel industry all but disappeared….

Herodotus
Guest

Don’t forget that steel production was Nationalised under the Labour Government 1945-51. It was the Conservative government (in the 1950s) that returned it to the private sector claiming (correctly) that the industry, unlike the others that were nationalised, was profitable!

Herodotus
Guest

Actually, the Bessemer process of producing steel was first invented by Robert Mushet! He was a bit slow in getting to the patent office. However, Bessemer kind of acknowledged this by awarding him a pension for the rest of his life!

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Thus is life Bell with the telephone paying off a patent clerk to delay the opposition, Swan being too naive to think he could patent the light bulb and indeed almost anyone at the hands of the serial theft Edison.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

u.k can’t produce the steel needed, who’s taking the blame for that one? utter disgrace, like buying coal from poland every year.

Cam
Guest
Cam

That pissses me off! We have Many millions of tonnes of coal in the UK! And only a few miles from where the polish coal goes!

But I’m really glad to hear we have the first new deep underground coal mine opening soon in England. Great news, the last deep coal mine closed a couple odd years ago. If we need coal we have it! And we have some of the best coal on earth in the UK.

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

The coal in the UK is in mostly unrecoverable seams. Poor geology. We could use fracking to get out the shale gas but the ecomentalists and lefties wo t let us.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Yep, that is great for the environment…

UK coal is expensive as it requires great effort to get it out. Polish coal is cheaper as it is easier to mine. It is simple economics. However that is in the past. Coal is all but dead as a power source and so hopefully we will see the last coal burned very soon.

Keithdwat
Guest
Keithdwat

The UK was the worlds 4th largest exporter of steel in the 70s, what happened?

Brom
Guest
Brom

China

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

China didn’t decimate France, Germany, Italy and Spain’s steel production, how come?

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

We or should I say Thatcher decided ‘heavy industry’ wasn’t important to the wealth of the U.K. Finance and Services were the future leaving us an unbalanced economy that of course left us at the mercy of the Banks so many years later that came back to haunt us and we still feel today. Equally it decimated so many of the industries that relied on steel production. Unsurprisingly steel production itself struggled in that environment. There was a brief period when British Steel back in the eighties was praised after all it’s painful restructuring as the most efficient and successful… Read more »

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

It was not Thatcher it was the managers at the steel works. Someone has already mentioned it. Basically we used to produce high quality specialist steel but moved in to low quality, higher quantity steels. These were far easier for emerging economies to make cheaper and so our industry suffered. France and Germany etc were more intelligent and stayed away from the cheap stuff and continued to make specialist steels. Therefore their industry did not suffer to the same degree. As to Rover… it was destroyed by the Unions and very bad management. They used to call strikes at a… Read more »

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

“Lets also not forget that it was a Labour Govt that really decimated the British car industry. In their bid to stop Birmingham overtaking London, they introduced the Redistribution of Industry Act.” Are you talking about the distribution of industry act Lee? in 1945? the one that created over 300k jobs in deprived areas, which 40% were for women. But anyway, in all the years i have heard and been part of debate about UK car industry i have never heard of the distribution of industry act in 1945 being the reason for it’s “decimation” Lee the British car industry… Read more »

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Growing up in Birmingham and knowing many people in the motor industry. You are plain wrong. Those 200,000 jobs (which is the figure I am aware of, not 300,000) created is less than the number of people effectively forced to move out of Birmingham. So technically the people moved rather than new jobs created. It also became much more inefficient. Yes it did not immediately crash but that was due to how strong it was previously. Its fate however was sealed as it could now no longer cope with problems as easily. The idiotic union strikes in the 70s then… Read more »

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

It wasn’t China…. after the 2nd world war, before the EU, EEC, there existed the first organisation… the European coal and Steel community….ECSC….. basically it’s role was to control and regulate European steel production, and through this remove through time individual states capacity to unilaterally produce large quantities of steel, which was the main ingredient of the various European war machines…
In the 1990’s, it was the Europeans who were paying for the generous redundancy packages for the closure of the British Steel, Steel producing works.

Chinese production took off with their rapid industrialisation and they found easy export markets.

john martin
Guest
john martin

It was soled off,remember that woman in charge,sold all we needed to keep,but everyone was so busy getting cheap shares to care.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

That is not the reason at all. Just like Thatcher was not responsible for shutting down all the mines. It is very interesting that Labour supporters conveniently forget that Labour closed far more mines in a much shorter time period before she came to power.

She inherited a broken country with broken industry.

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

The unions were the problem and that came from my father who worked at the consett steel works, whilst he didn’t like Thatcher he accepted she was right in her approach. There was so much stuff being built around the town using the steel from the works it was unbelievable and never paid for.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Modern steel production is a complex business and it would not be possible for our nation to produce all types.

What is important is that we could easily convert to produce all types in extremis and that we are only buying from and supporting strategic industries in close allies.

So no defence related steel from China etc ( even if it’s cheap).

T.S
Guest

From a defence of the realm point of view, whilst we would all like to see a successful industry, right now in times of peace it’s fine to buy some of what we need from elsewhere. However, there must be plans for when we are at war. What happens if Russian/Chinese submarines stop imports coming in? Government should have things in place to quickly upgrade to make other types of Steel and increase capacity in a matter of months. Will they have done this? Like hell!

Heidfirst
Guest
Heidfirst

any modern war involving Russia/China will be too short to actually produce any complex warships/aircraft etc. during.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

Some of what you need, by all means, but not this much.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Just ask the Americans…. they have just worked out they are totally dependant on China for about 30 rare earth elements essential to their defence/high tech industry.
If the Chinese stop exporting then the Americans will be in serious trouble till they can establish other sources… unfortunately, a number of the elements are sole sourced from China…

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

But what about the Aluminium used in the upper deck structure, the GRP and composites…the copper in the wiring…the plastic on the cable sheathing…welding rods to weld the steel…Weapons systems… What should we do …reopen the Cornish Copper and tin mines? Start trying to fine Bauxite deposits and open up an Aluminium Smelter? Invent a UK version of Phalanx… If a country cannot supply a material you go to the global market and find someone who can. British Steel can supply some but not all of the steel…fine…let them supply and roll what they can. I really cannot see what… Read more »

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

I think the discussion is not so much about the practicalities of building a warship but rather a commentary on our national attitude of mind which tends to prioritises exploitation and short term profit over the nurturing of indigenous strategic skills and assets. UK culture is really management by fear. For me one of the revealing changes since we joined the EU is just how well UK auto design, manufacture and productivity has prospered under foreign ownership and with European lf Japanese management culture. If you treat people with respect and invest in them they will perform. The demise of… Read more »

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

Resistance to change is/was a large factor.
Japan and German Car makers introduced new ways of doing things (5s , Kaizen etc) Unions where resistant to change (Look at the coal industry or what is left of it as an example) If you don’t change and stay competitive you wither and die. Welcome to the global economy.

Expat
Guest
Expat

The fact is foreign ownership only occurred because union power was curtailed, no foreign owner who have touched a UK Automaker in the 70’s. In one January in the 70’s there’s statistic UK industry lost 10million days to strikes, no one in there right mind will invest in industries under the constant threat of walkouts and production stops.

Expat
Guest
Expat

Wow, some of the comments on here. Steel is now global commodity we should focus on the high value products, Marine grade steel cost £400 per ton lets triple that number for arguments sake so £1200, a T26 hull is what 7000 tons. That’s £8.4m. The VLS from Lockheed Martin alone will cost 5 times that. Remember 1/2 by value is coming from the UK so the VlS alone is 10 times the value of the steel.

Darren
Guest
Darren

I wonder how much claw back the Uk gov gets back from the 50% UK part too?. Look, in this day and age the UK, to have aproper industrial strategy must be independent of eu rules which are a big cause, or at least used in shaping a non independent UK policy. Also The MOD shoulsd be buying direct from UK steel makers who can produce all of ther required steel as they did in the past. They get tax back and steel makers get the confidence in investing, yeah? Why employ their middle men mates at Dent steel to… Read more »

Darren
Guest
Darren

Certain steel types. All this government has come up with is the special thin flat steel needed and we cannot produce this all of a sudden so they need Dent (vested, it must be) steel to get it and make money doing this!?. Come on, this is total fucking bullshite and many buy this! Some commentator said our brains are our natural resource, but as I say, steel is not a natural resource and way are our brains helping UK industry? Our brains come from China with Nuclear (which aids ther subsidised industry) and Huawei. Look, UK brains with UK… Read more »