Defence Secretary Ben Wallace officially cut steel for the UK’s newest warship, during a ceremony held at Rosyth dockyard. The event marks a significant milestone in the programme for the Royal Navy, Defence and shipbuilding in Scotland, with all five vessels to be built by Babcock on the Firth of the Forth and an average production cost of £250 million per vessel.
Deemed the lead programme of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the construction of the fleet will support around 1,250 highly-skilled jobs at Babcock and see the creation of an additional 150 apprenticeships. A further 1,250 roles in the UK supply chain are also expected to be supported by the programme.
Shipbuilding Tsar and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
Today is a momentous occasion for the Type 31 programme, Defence and the shipbuilding industry in Scotland. As Shipbuilding Tsar, to cut the steel for the first of five new frigates that will be constructed here on our shores in the Firth of the Forth, providing jobs and innovation to the are, is a tremendous honour.
Equipped with the innovative technologies at the forefront of the Royal Navy’s future vision, the entire Type 31 fleet will be fitted with a range of capabilities allowing it to undertake a variety of operations at sea.
Design work for a new generation of Royal Navy submarines to replace the Astute class is underway, following the awarding of two multi-million pound defence contracts.
The contracts, worth £85m each, have been awarded to BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce to deliver early design and concept work for the replacement vessels, supporting 350 jobs in the process.
Over the next three years, the contracts will inform future decisions and help define the replacement approach for the Astute class submarines – the nuclear-powered fleet of submarines currently in service with the Royal Navy.
The contract with BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness will sustain around 250 roles at the shipyard to develop the platform design and delivery arrangements. At Rolls Royce in Derby, approximately 100 jobs are expected to be sustained through the contract for the development of the Nuclear Steam Raising Plant and the production arrangements.
The Italian-owned helicopter-maker Leonardo has said it may reconsider a proposed £1bn investment into UK manufacturing if the government does not choose it to deliver a replacement for the Royal Air Force’s Puma fleet.
The Ministry of Defence announced in the spring that it wanted to replace the Puma and eventually three other models. The RAF has used the Puma since the 1970s, and upgraded versions have been used extensively to carry troops in wars including the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Leonardo is vying with Airbus, the European aerospace conglomerate, to build a new mid-sized helicopter by about 2025. The Italian company owns the UK’s only helicopter factory, at Yeovil in Somerset, employing 3,000 workers, but Airbus this week pledged to create 400 jobs in a new helicopter production line at its factory in Broughton, north Wales, if it wins the government contract