Minister for Defence Procurement Alex Chalk attended the ceremony to officially begin construction on the future HMS Birmingham at BAE Systems’ Govan shipyard in Glasgow. The steel cut, marking the official start of build on the fourth of eight Type 26 frigates, was carried out by apprentice burner, Ciaran Baillie, accompanied by fabricator – plater Jamie Finnegan. All of the Royal Navy vessels will be built by BAE Systems on the Clyde, sustaining around 1,700 jobs in Scotland and 4,000 jobs in total across the wider UK maritime supply chain. BAE Systems plans to recruit a further 400 trades people and 200 apprentices for the programme in 2023.
“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,”Simon Lister, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Naval Ships business said.
Work on the first three Type 26 ships is well under way with HMS Glasgow now at BAE Systems’ Scotstoun shipyard to have her complex systems installed, HMS Cardiff currently being assembled and HMS Belfast in its early construction phase. HMS Birmingham is the first ship to be constructed under a £4.2bn contract for the remaining five ships secured in November, which reflects the Ministry of Defence’s confidence in the programme. The Type 26 is one of the world’s most advanced warships. It is designed for anti-submarine warfare and high-intensity air defence, but can adapt its role quickly to transport high volumes of humanitarian aid and house medical facilities.
The programme is a UK-wide endeavour, with more than 120 British suppliers securing contracts supporting the frigates, including for steering gears in Dunfermline, gas turbines in Filton and maritime LED lighting in Cumbria. BAE Systems is investing approximately £15m in a new Applied Shipbuilding Academy in Glasgow to support the development of the entire workforce, from apprentices through to senior leaders. In addition, construction has begun on a modern shipbuilding hall worth more than £100m, which will greatly enhance productivity on the Clyde to support the delivery of these eight ships and future orders. The Commonwealths of Australia and Canada have selected the Type 26 design, which, together with the UK, provide an anticipated 32-ship programme across the three nations.