Merseyside shipyard Cammell Laird is set to revive plans to help build a new generation of Royal Navy warships as the Government raises the defence budget by £16.5bn. Tony McDonough reports
Multi-billion pound plans to build a new generation of Royal Navy frigates will likely lead to major contracts and new jobs at Merseyside’s Cammell Laird shipyard.
Announcing a £16.5bn increase in defence spending over the next four years, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a big chunk of the budget would be spent to “restore Britain’s position as the foremost naval power in Europe”.
He told the House of Commons: “If there was one policy which strengthens the UK in every possible sense, it is building more ships for the Royal Navy… This will spur a renaissance of British shipbuilding across the UK. In Glasgow and South Belfast, Appledore and Birkenhead.”
Cammell Laird, which has just finished building the £200m RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research vessel, had previously teamed up with defence giant BAE Systems to design what it called its Leander frigate to meet the requirements of a £1.25bn project by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to build five Type 31 frigates.
The Wirral shipbuilding, repair and engineering business had even estbablished a network of 2,000 potential suppliers that would help it build the vessels. However, in 2018 the MoD put the project on hold.
Now, with what has been described as the “biggest investment in the UK’s armed forces since the end of the Cold War”, the MoD will revive the plans to build the Type 31 frigates, as well as new Type 32 and Type 26 vessels.
In a statement, the Government said: “The £16.5bn investment confirms our order of eight Type 26 and five Type 31 frigates, commits us to the next generation Type 32, and supports the future solid support ships that will supply our Carrier Strike Group.”
The Prime Minister added: “We shall deploy more of our naval assets in the world’s most important regions protecting the shipping lanes that supply our nation and we shall press on with renewing our nuclear deterrent.”
LBN understands Cammell Laird will be an enthusiastic bidder when the contracts are put out to tender by the MoD. In May, David McGinley took over as chief executive of the business, replacing long-serving boss John Syvret. Mr McGinley would be keen to secure a major naval contract early on in his tenure.
Cammell Laird has plenty of pedigree the building of naval vessels. In the 20th century it build the aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal and HMS Venerable as well as multiple battleships for the Royal Navy.
More recently, the company has delivered the flight decks and hangars for the Royal Navy’s two newest aircraft carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales between 2014 and 2016. HMS Prince of Wales visited the Mersey in March this year.