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Type 26 Batch 1

Volume 721: debated on Wednesday 2 November 2022

Today I wish to provide an update on the progress of the first batch of Type 26 frigates.

The Type 26 frigate is an advanced anti-submarine warfare warship designed for the critical protection of the continuous at-sea deterrent and carrier strike group. The manufacture of ship 1, HMS Glasgow, is progressing in BAES’s Govan shipyard and is expected to be in the water by the end of 2022. The manufacture of ship 2, HMS Cardiff, commenced with a steel-cutting ceremony in August 2019, and the manufacture of ship 3, HMS Belfast, commenced with a steel-cutting ceremony in June 2021 conducted by HRH The Prince of Wales.

The Type 26 reference design has been successfully exported to Australia and Canada, which are developing the Australian Hunter class and Canadian surface combatants respectively. Winning these export deals has demonstrated the world-class credentials of the Type 26 design, as well as further securing thousands of highly skilled UK jobs and strengthening strategic alliances with our close allies.

HMS Glasgow’s Royal Navy ship’s crew have already started to join. They are providing vital Royal Navy expertise to deliver the ships and have already met HMS Glasgow’s sponsor, HRH The Princess of Wales.

Type 26 production is well under way as evidenced by completion of the platform design, joining the fore and aft sections of HMS Glasgow, successful gearbox installation and shaft alignment work in readiness for float off to the Scotstoun yard around the end of this year. The gearbox for HMS Cardiff (ship 2) has been successfully tested at the factory, delivered and installed, along with the major propulsion components (e.g. diesel engines, electric motors, gas turbines) and the fore and aft sections are on track to be joined together early next year.

BAES, the Type 26 prime contractor, and the MOD are also working on improving ship build productivity through the introduction of updated welding machines and technology, digital ways of working to enable the workforce timely access to build data, and more efficient sequencing and automation of production line work for block construction. As a result, significant improvement has already been witnessed in ships 2 and 3.

Due to the impact of covid-19, where the Govan yard was required to shut down for a number of weeks, and challenges typical of those experienced with the first of class ship, including finalising the ship design and timely delivery of key new to service equipment, the Department is forecasting a 12-month delay to the Type 26 initial operating capability (IOC) from October 2027 to October 2028. A proportion of the associated cost growth will fall to the contractor as part of the target cost incentive fee (TCIF) commercial arrangements. The resultant cost growth for the MOD is 4.2% over forecast, which is £233 million over the life of the programme.

Work is already under way to increase productivity and improve on the revised forecast IOC date. In addition, an investment in a new shipbuilding hall to build ships undercover and to further improve build efficiency is in progress, with the planning application submitted to the local authorities. BAES is also working closely with DE&S and the Royal Navy to streamline the trials, testing and acceptance into service plans. Examples include using Royal Navy procedures and ways of working during shipbuilder acceptance trials to avoid the need to repeat these activities after vessel handover to the Royal Navy. Plans are also in place to have DE&S and Royal Navy personnel present and engaged with test and commissioning activity to grow Type 26 ships’ staff experience and de-risk the successful in-service operation and maintenance of the class, providing another opportunity to bring forward the IOC date.

The Type 26 programme remains on track to meet all user requirements and deliver world-class anti-submarine warfare frigates in time to replace the anti-submarine warfare Type 23s.