British Minister for Defence Procurement, the Hon Alex Chalk, attended the ceremony to officially begin construction on the future HMS Birmingham at BAE Systems’ Govan shipyard in Glasgow.
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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 tradespeople and 200 apprentices for the program in 2023.
Alex Chalk KC, Minister for Defence Procurement, said, “This is yet another significant milestone for the Type 26 program, supporting thousands of jobs in Scotland and across the wider UK supply chain. Working closely with our industry partners, we are bringing in a cutting-edge class of warships for the Royal Navy, bolstering our maritime capabilities into the coming decades.”
The Type 26 is one of the world’s most advanced warships. This class of vessel 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.
Simon Lister, managing director of BAE Systems' naval ships business, welcomed the milestone in the Type 26 program, saying, “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.”
The program 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.
“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 program forward and deliver the next generation City Class frigates for the Royal Navy,” Lister added.