Ships deal at risk

As a maritime historian and retired reserve naval officer I keep a careful eye on the procurement processes of the Royal Navy.

S Beck (Letters, 16 July) is completely wrong in his assertion that the new Type 26 frigates will either not be built or will be built abroad to save money.

The Royal Navy does not order warships from foreign yards but does acquire new tonnage for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) from such yards on a value for money basis.

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An independent Scotland could bid for auxiliary contracts provided that the costs were less than, say, the Korean yards currently building for the RFA.

In all probability warship contracts would go to a revitalised Portsmouth facility. This would include the Type 26 Global Combat that will replace the Type 23 frigate as the general purpose workhorse of the Royal Navy.

Under current plans, first steel will be cut by the end of 2015 and the Type 26 will enter service as soon as possible after 2020.

On 25 March, 2010, BAE Systems was given a four-year, £127 million contract by the Ministry of Defence to design the Type 26. It is expected that there will be an order for eight vessels towards the end of this year with a total of 13 being ordered overall.

This was confirmed in the House of Commons on 24 May, 2012.

Without the uncertainty of the referendum the major part of the contract would have gone to BAE on the Clyde, especially given the excellent work on the six Type 45 Destroyers of the Daring Class.

One can hardly blame the MoD for delaying an order when the possibility exists that the likely main contracting yard might be in a foreign country – a foreign country whose devolved government has long expressed hostility to the foreign and military policies of the UK government.

The ships will be built, and will be built in the UK, and I sincerely hope that will be on the Clyde, as the old adage “Clyde built, well built” still 

(Dr) Roger I 

Turretbank Place