Michael Fallon has visited the Ferguson Marine shipyard at Port Glasgow where he remarked upon the opportunity for the Clyde yard to build the new frigates.

Industry has been invited to provide high level plans to build an initial order of five ships at a maximum average price of £250 million per ship.

The Defence Secretary has committed to visiting all of the UK’s major shipyards in the run-up to industry bringing forward its solutions for the Type 31e Frigate.

With the Government saying they are committed to building the Type 31e in the UK, Fallon indicated during his visit to the yard that Ferguson has the opportunity to compete for this latest programme to build ships for the Royal Navy.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

“With our cutting-edge Type 26 frigates already being built on the Clyde, I know Scottish skilled engineers will relish the chance to compete to build a brand new class of warships for the growing Royal Navy. We want to make the most of the renaissance in UK shipbuilding, delivering the latest ships that will help protect our nation and our interests across the world.”

Just so we’re clear on one of the points raised in the speech, the Royal Navy isn’t growing, see here.

The Scottish Fisheries Protection Vessel Jura was built at Fergusons.

This comes after the owners of the other yards on the Clyde, BAE, decided not to bid for assembly of the new frigates.

As we reported yesterday, BAE Systems has announced a partnership with Cammell Laird, who would ‘Prime, build and assemble’ the vessels at their Merseyside facility while the Clyde will focus on the Type 26 Frigates.

If the bid is successful, Cammell Laird would be main contractor with BAE providing design and combat systems.

BAE themselves say that shipbuilding capacity on the Clyde will be full until the mid 2030s while the Ministry of Defence want the first of the new Type 31 Frigates in service by 2023.

The MoD is hoping to reduce its reliance on BAE and cut the costs of procurement by spreading shipbuilding across civil and naval yards.

To this end, the government are implementing the results of an independent report into the National Shipbuilding Strategy by Sir John Parker which recommended that the Type 31 Frigate build be spread across the UK, with blocks and components being constructed in yards in both Scotland and England.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy is intended to be a “radical, fundamental re-appraisal of how we undertake the shipbuilding enterprise in the UK, intending to place UK naval shipbuilding on a sustainable long term footing”.

BAE themselves signalled their own reluctance to bid for the Type 31 Frigate as prime contractor due to concerns of a “race to the bottom” on price. Speaking to The Herald here, BAE managing director Iain Stevenson said:

“We do want to be involved in Type 31. But we have questions. Does it have a budget? What are the timescales. We have not got solid facts. Type 31 could be a race to the bottom.

If it is a front price contract people might bid for it to win and it and it might put them out of business. We would not, because we are BAE Systems.”

In a press release signalling a their intention not to bid to build the vessels BAE say:

“BAE Systems is focused on the manufacture and delivery of the two QE Class carriers, the five River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) and the first three City class Type 26 warships, as well as continuing to develop and upgrade combat management systems on all Royal Navy ships. Taking account our current and future workload, including Type 26, our shipbuilding capacity on the Clyde will be full until the mid 2030s.”

27 COMMENTS

  1. I suppose Ferguson would have to team up with a design company, so this might be an opportunity for Steller Systems or maybe an overseas design. I would like to see as many designs and potential building sites as possible, for the area of MoD shipbuilding is crying out for real competition to drive down prices and improve quality and build times.

  2. Interesting visit by Fallon and politically astute to propose Clyde based building of Type 31e or modules thereof. It’s looking like the winner of the Type 31 bid is the design which is most easily built in blocks. Venator?

  3. I would like to see Fergusons put in a tender, perhaps the Spartan, or even a joint venture with Babcock. It would be practice getting ready if Scotland becomes Independent as much as anything, but they’d have to be very wary of not losing money on the deal, tight as a drum contracts and indeed tender.

    The thing is whether they have the length, previously it was around a 100 metre max, with the T31e probably being 115 to 120 metres, but there was a plan to extend max length to 150 metres, to be able to build bigger ROROs, no idea what the status is of that.

    Yes, they’d need a partner to have the military experince on board, so to speak.

    I suspect they’d be able to pick up workers from BAE as I don’t think top of the head, the program for the T26 build will take all workers.

  4. Rather than over priced wannabe frigates, I have written to my MP suggesting more offshore patrol vessels as those built at Appledore would be better suited to the navy. This country has no role policing the wild blue yonder. A couple dozen offshore patrol craft policing home waters would be cheaper and more appropriate.

          • I much respect this document. I have read it before. Affordable and sensible defence proposals for an independent Scotland free of the trappings of the pigheadedness and arrogance of the current UK.

          • TH – yes, and what’s great about it for me is that I didn’t find it until last year, 2016, but meantime had worked out my own from costs, comparisons and needs including NATO membership, and it was remarkably similar. Our needs are airspace (Russian intercept!), territorial waters and EEZ, and contribution either to NATO or something similar sanctioned by the UN. There was another paper which had 50 Hawks as our air defence. Mmm, right, errr, no.

            But the UK is different, and what it has does fit the role it wants to play in the world, so it needs that bit better, more advanced. Whether the role it wants to play is right or not is a different discussion I think, the type of discussion you post about. But whatever role it wants it needs the appropriate kit. I think its actual and planned navy actually does the job for the role it has and seeks to keep. And that’s expensive, to get that bit extra out of the ships, while keeping shipuilding and design alive in the UK, costs twice as much – or more.

        • Ah so you have attained the optimum level of retardation. Also paying your taxes I have been doing that since I was 17 and it is against the law not to unless unemployed or impoverished so stop patting your self on the back.

      • TH – Without wishing to disrespect Steve he wouldn’t have to be too wise to have a better grip on reality than do you and your Tax Alliance mates …

        You clearly have far too much time on your hands because a couple days ago you were also writing to Fallon. Who I should think placed your letter in the ‘NutJob’ file…

      • TH, you like to talk about your taxes a little too much. Makes me wonder if you are on benefits, sitting at home eating microwave dinners and trolling the internet all day.

        • I claimed one week’s unemployment benefit in the 1970s. £7.30. I have a microwave but don’t use it to heat up microwave dinners. But what has that to do with a sustainable defence budget?

          • I believe microwaves are the coming weapons of the future, to go along with lasers. Beamed microwaves, cook the enemy!

  5. The mod want a £375 million ship for £250 million hence the reason bae quite happy just to do tech stuff very light plate nightmare to work with

  6. Wiki has this article about Scottish fisheries protection, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Fisheries_Protection_Agency. I found it interesting that, while FPV Jura was built by Ferguson’s, the Scottish executive placed the order for two follow on vessels with a Polish yard. It would seem that, while the Scottish government like to belly-ache about Whitehall ordering vessels from anywhere other than the Clyde, they do not hold themselves to the same standards. Quelle surprise.

    • Hi Bloke down the pub
      Good try, but not quite right!
      I’m no great fan of our current nationalist administration in Edinburgh – but the contract was awarded by the Labour-Liberal coalition back in 2005.
      A very controversial decision at the time – but ministers argued that EU competition rules dictated that the order for FVP Hirta went to the Gdansk yard.

      • Both the Lab/LibDem and SNP administrations run scared of the EU competiitive rules, and many people think they should just go for it. Problem is if they get it wrong they can be taken to court for damages.

        I think they’re on a sticky wicket with the FPVs, but with CMAL they could claim special menber state interest because they’re a lifeline service. Problem is the UK doesn’t do that, as it’s not a priority, there are only the two routes I think outside Scotland, IOW and Scilly Isles, both private. Scotland as an EU member in our right could perhaps trade off getting special treatment, for voting with the big countries on something like wine corkage or something not important! Small members can have totally disproportionate power in the EU, it’s kind of the way it was set up. But who knows?

        • Hi Dads,
          Interesting post – and these are some of the arguments that we debated in 2014.
          My hunch then – was that we had more influence in the EU as one of the Big Three, than as a small independent country of 5 million in a community of 500M. Indeed, even after Brexit (and I voted to stay), I think we’ll still have more influence in Brussels as part of the UK (even outside), than we could as a new entrant!
          OK, you’ll argue that we can make allies with the Nordic countries, or the Baltic states; but we already have strong alliances with the nations that share our archipelago.
          As Scots we have a special relationship with London, Cardiff and Belfast.
          I’m not convinced in the advantage of swapping that for Copenhagen, Helsinki and Tallinn.

          • Hi Alan,
            Well, as a member we get 1 vote in the 2 councils, same as Germany or France do. It’s only if 16 or more out of 28 vote for something that the populations come into it. The 13 smallest countries can combined block any legislation with just 9.1% of the population of the EU. That wouldn’t happen I guess, concessions would be made to the 13!

            Our natural allies in the EU would be the likes of Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Cyrpus, Finland and Denmark, with some of the Baltic states, whose votes the big 2 or 3 would be seeking. In the Parliament we’d get 13 MEPs instead of the current 6, hopefully a good mix of different parties so they could seek allies in their EU Parliament groupings. I think a small country can do better in the EU, it’s not so confrontational as it has been between Germany, France – and the UK.

            The alternative is EFTA. and I hope when the time comes, people make a good case for either.

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