I noted this story from ‘Defence News’ in an article entitled ‘UK orders five more counter-submarine frigates for $5 billion’ (15 November, 2022).
The admitted cost and time overrun to date is in a programme to build just three vessels, only the first of which is due ten years after the award of contract. Lots of scope for further time and cost overruns before all three vessels are operational!
Of relevance to scares about MOD procured warship building in Scotland post-independence, the same article quotes BAE Systems’ CEO who said the MOD’s newly announced frigate building contract for his company ‘secures the future of a critical U.K. industry.’ He adds: “It underpins the ONGOING INVESTMENTS we’re making in the SKILLS, INFRASTRUCTURE and technologies needed to stay at the forefront of the maritime sector and to support the U.K. government’s national shipbuilding strategy,” (my emphasis)
The article notes that one of those investments is the PLANNED CONSTRUCTION OF A SHIPBUILDING HALL AT GOVAN. ‘The company has submitted a planning application with local authorities to build a 175 meter long covered hall COSTING IN EXCESS OF £100 MILLION ($119 million).’ We’re then told that: ‘The investment (in this shipbuilding hall) will be A MAJOR FACTOR IN THE FINAL FIVE SHIPS COSTING LESS AND BEING DELIVERED FASTER THAN PREVIOUS VESSELS, the MoD said.’
And from the UK Defence Journal (19 September 2014) ‘BAE now able to invest £200 million in Clyde ‘Frigate Factory’’.
This article states: ‘Now that Scotland has voted ‘NO’ and paved the way for further Ministry of Defence work in Scotland, the defence giant BAE have announced that the contract to build the £200 million frigate construction facility will be put out to tender next week.’
A BAE spokesman was reported back then stating:: “We have been very open that Scotstoun would offer more benefits to our business and our customers. We continue to explore two options for manufacturing facilities investment in Glasgow, subject to consultation and MOD agreement.
So has all the £200 million investment announced by BAE in 2014 taken place? How does the ‘frigate factory’ relate to the investment of £100 million in what is being called a ’Shipbuilding hall’? Presumably the £200 million was invested in Scotstoun and the next £100 million is due to be spent at Govan? Can anyone confirm?
As to the future, it is very far from straightforward (to say the least) to uproot a highly skilled workforce in Scotland which BAE has at scale – and has sunk investment in over a long time – and move it to some other country. Secondly, it will be a lengthy and expensive business (to say the least) to replicate a ’state-of-the-art complex warship manufacturing facility’ – one which has already had hundreds of million pounds of investment – somewhere other than Scotland. And especially when these present facilities are described as being ‘A MAJOR FACTOR IN THE FINAL FIVE SHIPS COSTING LESS AND BEING DELIVERED FASTER THAN PREVIOUS VESSELS’! Pragmatism and necessity suggest there are deals to be done!