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Defence secretary visits Clyde amid frigate controversy

Sir Michael Fallon is visiting BAE Systems, where Type 26 frigates are being built.

Michael Fallon: Visiting Clyde with wife to name new warship (file pic).
Michael Fallon: Visiting Clyde with wife to name new warship (file pic). PA

Sir Michael Fallon has visited a Clyde shipyard building the next generation of Royal Navy warships.

The defence secretary is touring the UK's largest yards and has already visited Belfast and Merseyside.

Eight Type 26 frigates and five patrol ships are being built at BAE Systems, which Fallon visited with his wife on Friday.

During the trip Lady Wendy Fallon christened the second patrol vessel constructed there HMS Medway.

The UK Government initially said 13 Type 26s would be built in Glasgow but the number was later cut.

Ministers promised contracts for five Type 31 frigates would go to the Clyde, potentially protecting hundreds of jobs.

However, it emerged earlier this week that BAE had partnered with a Mersey firm to bid for the work.

The decision means the warships will not be built in Scotland and has prompted concerns about the future of the Clyde.

'I know Scottish skilled engineers will relish the chance to compete to build a brand-new class of warships for the growing Royal Navy.'
Sir Michael Fallon

Ahead of the visit, Fallon said he believed Scottish engineers would "relish the chance to compete to build" the Type 31s.

Speaking later in Glasgow, he said: "No other industry in Britain has as much certainty as those who work in shipbuilding.

"There's 20 years of work guaranteed for the Clyde now and BAE Systems are teaming up with Cammell Laird to bid for the Type 31 as well.

"It will be a powerful bid combining the skills and expertise here with Cammell Laird but there will be other bidders as well, and other yards, but I expect a very strong bid from BAE-Cammel Laird and that means the skills here on the Clyde will be re-employed again."

Fallon also visited the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde.

BAE Systems recently announced plans to shed 2000 jobs, including up to 15 at a manufacturing site in Fife.

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