Shipbuilding unions have accused the UK Minister of Defense of reneging on a promise to build five new navy frigates on the Clyde. It came as Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon announced that five Type 31e frigates could be built and assembled across several UK shipyards.
Unions at the Govan and Scotstoun yards said the work had previously been promised to them. Mr Fallon said the Clyde yards had already been guaranteed 20 years of work building eight Type 26 frigates.
The five new ships will be in addition to that order, and he insisted it was right to open the contracts up to competition.
An initial contract for the Type 26 program was based on the assumption that 13 would be built, but that number was later cut to eight following the Strategic Defense and Security Review in 2015.
It was also confirmed that five of the lighter and cheaper Type 31 frigates would be built to make up the shortfall in numbers.
When he confirmed in November of last year that the eight Type 26 frigates would be build on the Clyde, Sir Michael did not say that the five smaller frigates would also be built there - but did say that the yards would be in ”pole position for the work.
Sir Michael has now confirmed that the contract for the Type 31 will be opened up for yards across the UK to bid on, meaning that the work is not guaranteed to go to Scotland.
The move could see the ships built in blocks across several British shipyards and then assembled at a central hub, similar to the approach taken for the Navy's biggest ever ship, the 65,000-ton aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was assembled at the Rosyth yard in Fife.
The new Type 31e frigates are due to be in service by 2023, and their cost will be capped at a maximum of £250m each so they can be sold to other countries.