Five new warships will be built for the Royal Navy in Glasgow, following the awarding of a £4.2billion contract. BAE Systems will construct the Type 26 City-class vessels on top of the three that are already being made following a similar deal in 2017, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced today.
Rishi Sunak confirmed the defence deal would go ahead while attending the G20 summit in Bali, where he has pledge to challenge Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who is attending instead of Vladimir Putin.
He said: “Russia’s actions put all of us at risk. As we give the Ukrainian people the support they need, we are also harnessing the breadth and depth of UK expertise to protect ourselves and our allies.
“This includes building the next generation of British warships.”
The MoD said the deal with the private defence contractor would support 1,700 jobs in Scotland over the next decade. BAE Systems is building the vessels at its sites in Govan and Scotstoun.
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It added that the contract stipulated that the firm is committed to investing £1.2billion in the UK supply chain, which it estimates will support a further 2,300 jobs across Britain.
HMS Glasgow, HMS Cardiff and HMS Belfast are already under construction at the shipbuilding site in Govan, in a £3.7billion deal.
The Government expects construction of all eight frigates will be completed by the mid-2030s, with the first entering service by the end of 2028 – provided there are no delays.
Previously, HMS Elizabeth, an aircraft carrier constructed by a consortium of defence contractors, faced delays due to technical issues and defects.
The warships are due to replace the Navy’s 12 existing and ageing Type 23 Duke-class frigates, which have been in commission since 1987.
The five new ships will be named after UK cities, and include HMS Birmingham, HMS Newcastle, HMS Edinburgh, HMS London and HMS Sheffield – the latter being named after the Type 42 destroyer which was fatally attacked during the Falklands War forty years ago.
Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said: “Supporting thousands of high-skilled jobs in Scotland, and more across the wider UK supply chain, this contract will continue to boost our British shipbuilding industry, galvanising the very best of British engineering, manufacturing and design.”
The new defence contract, which will bring jobs and funding to Scotland, may be seen as an attempt by Mr Sunak to bind the nation to the rest of the UK at a time when Nicola Sturgeon’s devolved Government is threatening a second independence referendum.
Just yesterday, MPs on the Scottish affairs committee were told by a professor of economics that he did not see “a future for a Scottish warship building industry in an independent Scotland”.
Keith Hartley, emeritus professor of economics at York University, said: “At the moment the industry’s future depends on the Royal Navy. Without the Royal Navy, you would not have an industry. An independent Scotland will presumably have a minute navy.”
At just under 150m long, the Type 26 frigates will have a top speed of around 26 knots and a range of 7,000 nautical miles.
They will be fitted with missiles and five-inch guns, and are intended to protect Britain’s submarine nuclear deterrents.
BAE Systems recently applied to build a new £100million shipbuilding hall on the River Clyde in Scotland, which would allow two of the frigates to be built under cover at the same time.
The company believes this will help reduce the construction costs.
Commenting on the awarded contract today, Charles Woodburn, BAE Systems chief executive, said: “This contract secures a critical UK industry and allows us to build on our long history of shipbuilding on the Clyde as we continue to deliver cutting-edge equipment to the Royal Navy into the next decade.”
Steel will be cut for the first of the five vessels, HMS Birmingham, this winter. BAE Systems previously said it expects HMS Glasgow to enter the water later this year.