T26Vice-Admiral Sir Chris Gardner, Director General (Ships) at DE&S confirmed the first Type 26 frigate, HMS Glasgow was 12 months behind schedule. This has been caused by three main issues: COVID, “Inadequate engineering maturity” and problems with the supply chain.
While the impact of COVID was unavoidable, the engineering issues are harder for BAE Systems to explain. The five OPVs built in Glasgow at an inflated price were supposed to subsidise the yard to re-baseline its shipbuilding skills. After the serious construction mistakes with HMS Forth, promises were made that “lessons would be learned” and BAES were also very keen to highlight how its digital shipyard technologies would drive efficiency. The 10-year construction plan for HMS Glasgow was already pretty leisurely. An optimist might hope that if the integration work at Scotstoun goes more smoothly than the construction phase, the ship could still meet the 2026/7 delivery schedule.
The supply chain issue mainly relates to the late delivery of the gearboxes built by David Brown Santasalo in Huddersfield. As long-lead items, the development of these sophisticated and ultra-quiet gearboxes has been underway for many years, including constructing a land-based test rig. Late delivery meant HMS Glasgow was rolled out of the build hall without the gearboxes which had to be fitted by cutting the hull open and skidding them into place on the hard standing. The Defence Secretary said they had been in touch with the supplier [David Brown] and “read them the riot act” as their products are fundamental to the whole Type 26 project, including in Australia and Canada.
The MoD will contribute to the cost of the new covered build hall at the Govan shipyard, although BAES is expected to make the main investment. The new facility is intended to allow the construction of 2 complete ships side by side, negating the need for outside working and speeding up the delivery of the second batch of Type 26. Plans to extend the Shipbuilding Outfit Hall to the rear were thwarted by planning restrictions relating to historic buildings. A second option to drain the adjacent wet basin and build a separate larger hall on the site are in an early stage of planning and approvals.
An older update on the UK's type 26. It seems building warships is not easy and that subsidies are everywhere and that hopefully David Brown can get its act together as this is the entire point of its existence