Two of the last remaining Clyde shipyards received a major boost today as the Ministry of Defence announced work to build eight Type 26 frigates will begin in the summer of next year.
Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon said “hundreds” of jobs would be secured at the BAE-owned Govan and Scotstoun yards over the next 20 years.
The first steel for the ships will be cut next summer, but a final timeframe for their construction has yet to be finalised.
The Type 26 project has been hit by delays, with plans to see construction begin earlier this year put back, and fears raised over shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde.
Speaking as he paid a visit to the Govan area of Glasgow, Sir Michael said: “Backed by Britain’s rising defence budget, the Type 26 programme will deliver a new generation of cutting-edge warships for our Royal Navy at best value for taxpayers.
“The UK Government’s commitment today will secure hundreds of high-skilled shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde for at least two decades and hundreds more in the supply chain across Britain.”
Ministers’ plans to build the eight anti-submarine Type 26 global combat ships were set out in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR15).
The project has been scaled back from earlier plans to build 13 new ships.
Steel-cutting will begin in the summer of 2017 subject to final contract negotiations, the MoD said.
Sir Michael has also announced a £100 million contract with MBDA to deliver the Sea Ceptor self-defence missile system for the Type 26 fleet.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “This is a momentous commitment for Scotland that will strengthen and secure our shipbuilding industry on the Clyde for the future.
“The UK Government is backing jobs on the Clyde and in its shipyards - and this investment is only possible because of the broad shoulders of our strong UK defence budget.”
Research commissioned by the Fraser of Allander Institute for the GMB union estimated the Clyde yards support over £162 million worth of wages across the country.
“This confirms a generation of skilled employment that will support local communities and generate hundreds of millions for the Scottish economy until the 2030,” said Gary Cook, GMB Scotland organiser.
“This is massively welcome news for our long-suffering manufacturing sector and a much needed boost to our sluggish economy but it also offers some hope and opportunity for the next generation of workers too.
“Make no mistake that the UK government has had to be dragged to deliver after months of evasion but the campaigning efforts of our trade union members have been pivotal in holding them to account.
“The best thing the Tories can do now not only for our Scottish shipbuilders but also shipbuilding as a whole, is to ensure the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel contracts are awarded to our yards under a work-share programme, which would see the likes of Rosyth primed to benefit.
“It’s just a great pity that the UK government has not delivered on its promise to build the frigate factory on the Upper Clyde which would have seen state-of-the-art facilities creating a platform for the export market.”