WHITEHALL needs to step up the pace of building Britain’s new batch of frigates or risk costs spiralling, the UK’s former top sailor has warned
Admiral Lord Alan West has said he is ‘worried’ at the current build speed of the multi-billion pound Type 26s.
So far Britain has ordered three of the state-of-the-art frigates as part of a £3.7bn deal, with steel already having been cut on the first vessel.
However, Lord West said more urgency is needed in securing the work for the next five City-class warships.
If there isn’t a ‘steady drum beat’ of orders for UK shipyards, the Labour peer warned overall costs could soar, with delays blighting the project.
Lord West said: ‘The costs of these (ships) are getting ridiculously high, they take too long to build. What we need is a steady drum beat of orders because if you do that you start driving down costs, you get all the productivity bonuses – you get innovation.
‘The Type 23s for example, the last ones were rolling off at really good value. We could do that with the Type 26s – but not if you order three of them and take so long to do it.’
Once completed, the vessels will be the most advanced anti-submarine warfare frigates in the globe, replacing some of the 13 older Type 23 frigates, with the cheaper, less advanced Type 31e filling the void for the rest.
An MoD spokeswoman said: ‘The Type 26 is a cutting-edge warship that will bolster our world leading Royal Navy and protect our seas for generations to come.
‘We are confident the eight ships will be delivered as planned, with the contract for the first three ships already supporting 4,000 jobs across the UK and a second contract for the remaining five anti-submarine frigates set to be negotiated in the early 2020s.’