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Update: BAE Systems outlines Type 26 frigate progress amid steelworker shortage

HMS Cardiff will be the last Type 26 to be consolidated in the open. (Richard Scott/NAVYPIX)

BAE Systems Naval Ships in Glasgow is outsourcing steel work and introducing a new automated panel line as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of a steelworker deficit on the UK Royal Navy's (RN's) Type 26 City-class anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigate programme.

Sir Simon Lister, managing director of the Naval Ships business, said these measures – allied to the construction of a new ship assembly hall being built at the company's Govan yard – are intended to offset shortages in steel trades while at the same time improving efficiency and productivity. However, he acknowledged during a 9 April media briefing that current labour force shortages mean that BAE Systems is unlikely to hit its scheduled delivery milestones until fourth ship HMS Birmingham .

BAE Systems Naval Ships is under contract to build eight Type 26 frigates for the RN, with construction running through to the mid-2030s. The first three – the subject of a GBP3.7 billion (USD4.6 billion) contract awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in mid-2017 – are in various stages of construction and outfit. First-of-class HMS Glasgow is fitting out in dry dock at Scotstoun (the focal point for final outfit, commissioning, test, and trials); second ship HMS Cardiff is progressing towards structural completion on the hardstanding at Govan, with work ongoing to install and align the vessel's shaft lines; and major modules for third ship, HMS Belfast , are being built up in Govan's ship block and outfit hall.

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