Britain's troubled shipyards were given a huge boost as the Ministry of Defence announced a £6bn programme to replace the navy's ageing fleet of destroyers. The ministry is negotiating an initial £1bn order for the construction of the first three of 12 Type 45 destroyers which will be assembled by BAE Systems and Vosper Thornycroft.
The first ship, HMS Daring, will be assembled at BAE's Scotstoun (formerly Yarrow) yard on the Clyde and the second, HMS Dauntless, by Vosperís at Southampton or Portsmouth. Ordering more than one ship at a time from more than one yard will bring the ships into service quicker and less expensively, with companies sharing the risks, the MoD said. In another innovation, sections of the ships will be built at different locations before they are assembled at Clydeside and the south coast.
BAE Systems have three shipyards - Scotstoun, Govan - also on the Clyde - and Barrow. It is not clear where it will assemble the third of the first batch of destroyers. The second one will be assembled by Vosper Thornycroft whose shipyard is in Southampton. It said it was examining the possibility of assembling the ships in the Portsmouth naval base. This is the second big defence procurement package the government has announced. It recently earmarked £5bn for leasing large US transport aircraft and investing in a military airbus in a joint project with France and Germany.