Defence Procurement Minister Alex Chalk presided over the ceremony marking the start of construction on the future HMS Birmingham at BAE Systems’ Govan shipyard in Glasgow today.

The event signified the beginning of work on the fourth of eight Type 26 frigates, with apprentice burner Ciaran Baillie and fabricator-plater Jamie Finnegan performing the steel cut.

The work, say BAE, is sustaining approximately 1,700 jobs in Scotland and 4,000 across the UK maritime supply chain. The company plans to hire an additional 400 tradespeople and 200 apprentices for the programme in 2023.

My colleague George Allison attended the steel cutting; I’ve attached images and a video from him below.

The first three Type 26 ships are in various stages of construction, with HMS Glasgow at BAE Systems’ Scotstoun shipyard for systems installation, HMS Cardiff being assembled, and HMS Belfast in early construction. The £4.2bn contract for the remaining five ships, including HMS Birmingham, demonstrates the Ministry of Defence’s confidence in the programme.

Minister for Defence Procurement Alex Chalk highlighted the importance of the Type 26 programme for job creation and collaboration with industry partners to develop advanced warships for the Royal Navy.

“This is yet another significant milestone for the Type 26 programme, supporting thousands of jobs in Scotland and across the wider UK supply chain. Working closely with our industry partners, we are bringing in a cutting-edge class of warships for the Royal Navy, bolstering our maritime capabilities into the coming decades.”

Simon Lister, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Naval Ships, praised the teams involved and expressed gratitude to customers and suppliers.

“This is another proud moment for our talented teams across the UK who have played a part in the design and construction of these important vessels. HMS Birmingham will benefit from a range of investments that will transform our digital and physical infrastructure and consolidate a centre of excellence for shipbuilding skills here in the UK. Alongside my teams I’d like to thank our customers and suppliers for their expertise and commitment as we take this programme forward and deliver the next generation City Class frigates for the Royal Navy.”

The Type 26, one of the world’s most advanced warships, is designed for anti-submarine warfare and high-intensity air defence, with the flexibility to serve in humanitarian and medical roles.

BAE Systems is also investing £15m in a new Applied Shipbuilding Academy in Glasgow to support workforce development and constructing a £100m modern shipbuilding hall to enhance productivity on the Clyde.

BAE planning Glasgow shipbuilding academy

The Type 26 design has been chosen by the Commonwealths of Australia and Canada, resulting in a 32-ship programme shared among the three nations, benefiting all parties involved.

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Lisa has a degree in Media & Communication from Glasgow Caledonian University and works with industry news, sifting through press releases in addition to moderating website comments.
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ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago

Four T26 ships under construction! Progress indeed and very welcome.

Can we have a couple more please? Thought I’d get that in quick 🙂

Cheers CR

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

With you CR! At these bargain prices it could be well worth it. And next, an extra T32 for 6.
I thought the fourth T26 onwards was going to be built in the basin shed next door which hasn’t been built yet?!

Quill
Quill
7 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

The steel is being cut right now, supposedly most of the 4th frigate will have its blocks assembled in the new building.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Hi Quentin, As Quill points out the 4th vessel will be assembled in the new Hall. The steel will be cut in adjoining workshops and possibly assembled into sub-blocks before being moved into the main assembly hall – the new shed:) Manufacturing the smaller components in seperate workshops enables better control of the environment and allows the use of machine tools. Welding is quite a science with the best welds dependent of careful and precise profiling of the edge of the plates to ensure that the weld takes properly with no voids or inclusions which can seriously affect the strength… Read more »

Teenie
Teenie
7 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

It is well on the way, which you can see when you drive past it.. but also there will be space where Belfast and Cardiff anee being build, when they move outside and to Scotstoun in due course ..

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Don’t be greedy….😃 👍

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago

A chap can dream, surely 🙂

Last edited 7 months ago by ChariotRider
ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

A chap can dream, surely 🙂

Seriously though I fear we are going to need them and our generation may be judged by future generations if we don’t rebuild our fleet and the other services.

Cheers CR
PS Tried to edit my first comment..?

Jim
Jim
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Andy did they teach you to read in your part of England or did they lack the money or something. Maybe try opening a book or just read UK defence Journal if you can. The government has a minimum spend guarantee with BAE and instead of gapping production after T45 until T26 they requested a slow built of batch 2 river at inflated prices. Nothing to do with The Clyde yards, nothing to do with Scotland or anything else. That agreement was signed as part of the aircraft carrier alliance before the SNP or Tory’s where in power or Scottish… Read more »

Bob
Bob
7 months ago

First of the batch 2 Type 26’s, excellent.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
7 months ago

I hope the government will have the type 83 ready to start as the type 26 finishes at govan.
A new ship needs to be ready to be started before the last frigate is finished at govan or a lot of skilled workers will be out of a job or being paid to do nothing.
Currently the ships are being started every 20-24 months. 2030 last one will be started I think. So 2032 new ship needed to keep shipyard running I guess.

Jon
Jon
7 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

I think batch 2 will be produced at a faster rate, maybe every 18 months. I’d guess the last one will start in 2029 to be completed by about 2036.

Jim
Jim
7 months ago

We never did get a clear explanation of the price dropping from £3.7 billion for the first three to £4.2 billion for the last 5. That’s a drop from £1.23 billion to £840 million. Not that I’m complaining it’s an amazing price reduction but was it caused by the cost sharing of Canada and Australia or is it a result of BAE facing competition from Babcock or simply just because the R&D etc was spread over the first three ships. £840 million seems like a bit of a bargain these days for possibly the most capable surface warship being built… Read more »

Jon
Jon
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I doubt the fall will be due to any single reason. I’m sure it’s due to all the above reasons, together with a larger batch size, lower perceived risk, and faster build time. Probably a few others neither of us thought of. As for what component of the fall is due to what, maybe we’ll never know.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago
Reply to  Jon

That is the role of NAO – they will tell us eventually.

A faster build rate if the components will, for sure drop prices, as well as the R&D being amortised over more units.

Likewise if the tempo is changed to a commercially dictated tempo then that would drop costs too.

I don’t see too many politicians and MOD civil servants or BAE wanting to bury how program prices have fallen? That’s the kind of positive story that makes it easier to get defence investment as opposed to ‘bottomless pit’ stories…

NorthernAlly
NorthernAlly
7 months ago

Have the Aussies and Canadians started building there ships yet? Maybe they have started to order the long lead time components that all 3 of the classes share which has started to bring the price of those items down for example gear boxes and engines.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago
Reply to  NorthernAlly

Or even pay down to reserve production capacity/slots?

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
7 months ago
Reply to  NorthernAlly

Long lead time orders are in but building is yet to start

geoff
geoff
7 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Agree Jim/Jon. The other factor that should be priced in is to de-escalate to start date for inflation and compare to the cost of the first ship. But then again we should do the cost/income analysis to get to the real price of the later ships!!😂 The international Big Mac price analysis is as good as any system in comparing purchasing power anywhere on the planet. Here in South Africa cigarettes cost maybe 50 Rands a pack whereas in Aus they are about R 450 for 20!!(I don’t smoke)😬 The 26’s look to be magnificent world beaters! ps are the… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
7 months ago
Reply to  geoff

RSA— Great value for visitors. Was in Cape Town for the Millenium on HMS SOMERSET. 14 Rand to the pound. For the equivalent 5GBP you could have a massive steak dinner with beer and still have change! A favourite chant at the Test Match which was ( Luckily) also on whilst we where there was “14 Rand to the pound…Its 14 Rand to the Pound…” An lets not forget the Stellenbosch…Or that watching the sunrise for the new millennium from the top of Table Top mountain which may look great but its really cold up there and you need to… Read more »

geoff
geoff
7 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Hi Gunbuster. Nice to hear from you! Yes South Africa is still a great country and best value for money as long as you know where to go-this all in spite of the ANC’s disastrous tenure!!
Cheers
Geoff
ps what do you think about Frigate vs Destroyer. Are the names still valid?

Jim
Jim
7 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Yes, scotlands other warship building yards 😀

Andrew
Andrew
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I don’t think anything has changed. For years we’ve been told the ships cost £1bn. Averaged over the 8 ships that’s still the case based on these figures.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Which is remarkable for a UK Defence Project?

Cost lines being kept to in times of high inflation…..?

Andrew
Andrew
7 months ago

Quite! Or, if the glass if half empty then the figures could just be out of date. If the glass is half full then perhaps the export successes have balanced out the inflation.

Quill
Quill
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Still, suppose with the clear indicators of how much the prices have fallen for the later batches, there could be support for more ships to be ordered to further reduce the overall cost per ship. Hell, if Type 83 is a design based on the 26’s hull we could also reduce costs by having commonality.

Paul Bestwick
Paul Bestwick
7 months ago
Reply to  Quill

Pretty sure that won’t happen. The T-83 will be a similar size to the proposed Italian Destroyers, which are approx 13,500 tons. So heading deep into WW2 Cruiser displacements.

David Steeper
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Bestwick

👍👍

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Bestwick

Hope they choose some strong names. I’m definitely no naval historian but like the sound of Nelson, Rodney, Eagle, Hood to make a come back. I’m sure there are some other mighty names.

BigH1979
BigH1979
7 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Nowhere near PC enough. Nowadays they need to be nothing to do with war or power or stuffy white middle aged Admirals. Don’t be suprised to see HMS Forum, HMS Equality, HMS Inclusion and HMS Mindful.

Disclaimer: The above post is a joke. 😉

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 months ago
Reply to  BigH1979

Isn’t the saying “Many a true thing is said in jest”? Lol… very creative of you though! We could add in a HMS Rainbow.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
7 months ago
Reply to  BigH1979

Disclaimer: The above post is a joke.

That is what you think … Wait.

Jack.
Jack.
7 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Thunderer. Orion. Revenge. Mars. Canopus. Majestic. Jupiter. Centurion. Renown. Magnificent. Indefatigable. Inflexible. Ajax. Phaeton. Triumph. Golden Lion. Sans Pareil. Colossus. Conqueror. Victorious. Glory. Lion. Tiger.

Nelson. Collingwood. Rodney. Cunningham. St. Vincent. Trafalgar. Raleigh. Cook. Falkland.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 months ago
Reply to  Jack.

That’s another 35 ships required… Lol 😁

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 months ago
Reply to  Quill

The T83 might be a “fattened and stretched!” T26. 😆 I still reckon I saw a AAW T26 mockup somewhere in the early days but it could have been an earlier rendition of the Australian T26.I also reckon I read somewhere that BAE had offered a “AAW proposal” to Australia if the RAN wanted 3 additional AAW Destroyers but that might be tied in with Navantia and maybe a reduction in T26s from 9 to 6. I coukd be dreaming. Anyway the T32 is meant to be the next in line. It’ll be good to see that come to fruition.

Jim
Jim
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Good point

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I think it might be accounting practices Jim; writing down initial costs (amortisation) and so forth. Scale always should reduce unit costs – should, but not always. There is a hidden benefit to expanding sovereign construction that doesn’t make it to the balance sheet; the tricky world of ‘perception’ and the value that brings nationally to the U.K. as a whole.

That said, six hulls is not sufficient. Reduce foreign aid to nuclear armed countries to find the necessary funds.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 months ago

This is not a post April fools joke, just my new mini-rant… just think if they’d made those 6 pack CAMMs into 8 pack silos, which I reckon they could do for the T45 upgrades.
We still don’t really now for sure if the T31s are getting 4×6 or the awful 2×6. Hope the planners are a bit more bold and maximise these ships.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

*know

Frank62
Frank62
7 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I agree. Under arming with too few SAMs just delivers the enemy an easy kill.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago

Is it just me or is anyone else depressed that steel is being cut by hand and not by a laser / water jet?

Gas axing plating seems so……yesterday?

Expat
Expat
7 months ago

No not just you. I’m hoping it was just for the ceremony. Even 1 offs are usually cut with CNC cutters. If this is the norm then quite alarming and depressing.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago
Reply to  Expat

For small one offs it is massively more efficient to CNC cut….

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
7 months ago

I thought in Glasgow they down an irnbru and rip the sheets in there hands.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
7 months ago

They used oxy-acetylene to cut the steel because the sparks make great footage for a promotional vid. I gather that the majority of the steel plate will be cut by CNC which is more accurate and consistent

Apparently only 35 per cent of the steel required to build each Type 26 frigate will be sourced from UK suppliers in Scotland and Scunthorpe – approximately 1400 tonnes per ship – with the rest coming from Sweden, which can make flatter steel plate with more consistent thickness

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

The Swedes must be loving us!

zavve
zavve
7 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

We certainly do!

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
7 months ago

You usually cut items out of a plate on a Plasma cutter. Its more efficient as you can minimise the need for grinding and the pieces can be crammed on to the plate. Straight cuts to provide a angled/chamfer for welding or to trim down to fit you usually use a gas axe in a carrier. It follows a straight edge you clamp to the plate. Light it up and let it go. I was more concerned about boots on the plate. My old boss went ape if he saw platers walking over plate that had weld through primer on… Read more »

Bringer of facts
Bringer of facts
7 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

I hear water jet cutting is the latest way to shape material, not sure if this can be used in shipbuilding though.

Paul T
Paul T
7 months ago

Laser cutting is another method.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago

We regularly use water jet cut steel for things like architectural steel staircases.

For precisely the reason there is no heat bowing of the plate and weld cavities can be precisely profiled.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
7 months ago

Hull plate on a FF/DD is going to be around 10-15mm. Some of the stuff we cut for tankers etc is over 30mm thick. You dont get much if any distortion!

Richard D
Richard D
7 months ago

Instead of spending vast sums on a new type to replace the 42, we should build a higher air defence spec 26. If conducting carrier defence it could operate alongside three type 31 with 32 mk41 launchers. That would give us plenty of cells it we network between ships.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard D

Do you mean T45 – T42 was retired a good while back! T26 is optimised for ASW not AAW. For anti sea skimmer attack profiles a high radar mast is required that requires the hull etc to be optimised for its metacentric weight. T26 isn’t that hull form. If you want networked AAW then one solution would be to put SAMPSON+ on QEC which has an even higher radar mast than T45 and then send that data to the fleet. The only issues with that is deconflicting SAMPSON with flight operations as you cannot have a plane flying through a… Read more »

Richard D
Richard D
7 months ago

Sorry type 45. Could potentially use a vtol drone (v247?) as AEW for a type 26. This would improve performance against sea skimming missiles.
Base longer range, high altitude radars on type 26.

Richard D
Richard D
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard D

The type 26 mast is already high, almost the same as the 45. The type 26 is good at medium range air defence, they would need improvements in missile capacity and long range detection ability.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard D

It is quite high but it has quite a light radar on it.

Nothing like SAMPSON – but it isn’t meant to be.

SAMPSON is the best out there. You cannot put something like that on every platform.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard D

Power is the answer to that.

If you want high resolution and long range you need power and lots and lots of it.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard D

We do network and have for decades over various LINK systems. The newest systems are more of a Mesh than a link, auto tying in data from other units systems and ensuring positional data matches from all sources. Why Mk 41s? What missiles do you want to fire? SM 2, 3 , 6? 15m USD for a 8 cell MK41 and for say 5mil+ USD a whoosh for an SM6! RN missiles are active homers and don’t need a separate target illuminator unlike the USN ABs. Even their latest AAW configure Flight 3s that are replacing the job done by… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Good reading as always GB!. Thanks.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
7 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

The Mk41 is really about land and surface attack plus flexibility.

Most missiles, other than Sylver ones, are Mk41 qualified.

I simply don’t why we would want the very expensive Standard Missiles in RN service.

Much more likely to see CAMM-ER as it has commonality with the existing.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
7 months ago

The company plans to hire an additional 400 tradespeople and 200 apprentices for the programme in 2023.

Further:

BAE Systems is also investing £15m in a new Applied Shipbuilding Academy in Glasgow to support workforce development and constructing a £100m modern shipbuilding hall to enhance productivity on the Clyde.

A good start to rebuilding a national capability. But only a beginning. Taken in the context of a policy of running down of the industry over decades, there is more to be done.

John Boulton
John Boulton
7 months ago

Someone asked the question: “Can the sheets of steel be transported on wagons” I suppose this means articulated vehicles, on roads. Yes they can, I used to carry sheets of steel 2 inches (60mm) thick, 50 feet (16m) long and 16 feet (4.8m) wide from Boston dock to Glasgow (GEC Alsthom) a few years ago. That’s 36 metric tonnes in one lump of steel – and impressive when they lift off the trailer with a pair of magnets.