Guto Bebb MP, the recently appointed UK Minister for Defence Procurement, visited BAE Systems’ Clyde shipyards today to announce the formal acceptance of the first River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) by the Ministry of Defence and witness progress on the Type 26 programme as production started on the second hull section of Glasgow, the first of the City Class frigates.
Defence Minister Guto Bebb said: «Thanks to the hard work of the Clyde shipyards, HMS Forth (P222) is now ready to join the Royal Navy surface fleet and begin the vital task of defending the UK and her interests around the world. Developing the Type 26 capability is also making great strides forward, reflecting the UK’s commitment to this cutting-edge new warship, which will sustain 4,000 jobs in Scotland and right across the UK».
HMS Forth (P222) will remain at the Scotstoun yard in Glasgow for a short period to complete some additional work requested by the MOD and on departure will be the first complex warship to leave Glasgow since HMS Duncan (D37) in 2013. She is expected to be commissioned into Her Majesty’s fleet at her home port of Portsmouth Naval Base this year.
HMS Medway (P223), the second of class, was named in October 2017 and is set to depart for sea trials in the first half of this year, while HMS Trent (P224) will be formally named in the spring. Tamar and Spey, the last of the River Class OPVs are currently under production at BAE Systems’ Govan yard.
Iain Stevenson, BAE Systems Naval Ships Managing Director, said: «It has been a pleasure to welcome the Minister to our facilities today and we were proud to show him around HMS Forth (P222). She is the first of a very special class of ships that we know will provide the Royal Navy and her crew with the flexibility they need to perform their vital operations. We are equally proud of the progress we are making on Glasgow, which is the first of three contracted next generation City Class Type 26 frigates. We are committed to supporting the Royal Navy through the delivery of these ships plus the five River Class OPVs, while we continue to work with our partner Cammell Laird to bid for the Type 31e contract».
Manufacture of the first Type 26, Glasgow, began in July 2017 and is progressing well with production starting on the second zone of the ship. The first hull section is already taking shape at the Govan yard and the second houses the main machinery space, aviation stores for embarked helicopters and a recreational area for the ships’ 59 senior rates.
During the visit BAE Systems also announced the signing of a £5.6 million contract with General Electric to establish an Electrical Integration and Test Facility in Whetstone, Leicestershire, to enable critical de-risking integration tests for the Type 26 propulsion systems. The agreement, which follows a previous Design Development contract signed in 2016, brings the total committed investment in the facility to around £13 million.
With a cutting edge platform design and the ability to adapt to the requirements of different navies, the Type 26 design has been proposed for the Australian Government’s anti-submarine warfare frigate programme and the Canadian Surface Combatant programme.