U.K. Sets Start Date for New Warships
Britain's BAE Systems said on Friday it had agreed with the U.K. government that the manufacturing of eight new anti-submarine warships would start in the summer of 2017, adding that a final contract was still being negotiated.
Europe's biggest defence contractor said in a statement that the Type 26 program, the name given to the new combat ships which the government said last year it planned to buy, helped to secure jobs at its shipbuilding facilities in Scotland.
Britain has to date invested 1.9 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) in the new ships but has not yet signed a final manufacturing deal for the fleet of new ships. BAE's current contracts for design and initial supply chain work runs until June 2017.
To date 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 U.K.
According to some estimates, Britain is likely to spend about eight billion pounds on building the ships, but the final value is not yet known.
"The U.K. 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," said British Defence Minister Michael Fallon, who visited the shipyard in the Scottish city of Glasgow on Friday.
Plans are also on track to finalize a contract to build two further Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), providing continuous warship production in Glasgow through to the Type 26 programme. The first three River Class OPVs are already under construction at BAE Systems’ facilities in Glasgow. Construction of first of class, Forth, began in October 2014, second of class, Medway, began in June 2015 while Trent began in October 2015.
The OPV design builds on the Royal Navy's existing River Class ships and variants are already in service in Brazil and Thailand. Engineers at BAE Systems have modified the design to meet the requirements of the Royal Navy. The new River Class OPVs will be globally deployable and capable of ocean patrol.