Workers win share of £150m order for three patrol boats

03 Sep 2009

Shipyard workers at Scotstoun and Govan have won a share in a £150m contract - the second massive deal the Clyde yards have secured in a week.

The new order is for Offshore Patrol Vessels for Trinidad and Tobago, and it follows extra work allocated to the yards last week on the Royal Navy's giant aircraft carriers.

One of the patrol boats is already under construction at BVT Surface Fleet's Scotstoun yard and at least half the work on another is also expected to be carried out there.

The whole order is for three vessels, with one already being built at Portsmouth.

The work is a bonus for the Clyde yards. Originally they were only supposed to be involved in basic steel-cutting, which was to be taken by barge to Portsmouth for assembly.

But the south-coast yard couldn't cope because of the demands being made by its share in building sections of the giant aircraft carriers.

Now one of the boats will be built, tested and commissioned on the Clyde before being handed over for sea trials.

She will be launched later this year and handed over to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago next year.

Scott Jamieson, BVT's programme director for the build, said: "This move shows BVT's ability and commitment to use its scale and scope to ensure delivery of future naval capability to its customers and to ensure the long-term sustainability of the maritime industry in the UK."

A company spokesman said it wasn't possible to say how much of the £150m order was worth to the Clyde in monetary terms.

But he added: "Although we're still looking at the final delivery strategy, we expect well over half the work will be coming to the Clyde."

He said the decision to bring the work to Glasgow was to balance workloads across the company's sites and to help sustain the long-term viability of the industry across the UK.

Although the company wasn't willing to detail how much this order is worth to the Clyde, it is a multi-million pound addition.

That was originally estimated to be worth around £1.3billion to the Glasgow yards and was then boosted by another £200m last week by the extra carirer work inherited from the Barrow shipyard in Cumbria because it couldn't handle its share of the workload.

Both Govan and Scotstoun have been involved in the construction of the new patrol boat order. The assembly is being done at Scotstoun, the steel-cutting was carried out at Govan.

Duncan McPhee, the Unite convener at Scotstoun, said winning the order was an endorsement of the high-quality work which had been done at the yard in recent years.

As well as building the Type-45 destroyers for the Royal Navy - the most advanced warships in the world - Clyde workers have also built frigates for Malaysia and off-shore patrol vessels for Brunei in recent years.

Mr McPhee said: "We had been told we were only doing some of the steel work and it was then going to be put on a barge and taken to Portsmouth.

"However, the review of the programme caused by the carrier order is a real bonus for us. This is very good for morale, partic-ularly as it's an export contract.

"The carrier and the Type-45 are the stable work for the yards but export orders like these are always a bonus and great to get.

"We have established a good reputation for building this kind of ship."

THE vessels being built for Trinidad and Tobago will be operated by the islands' coastguard. They are 90 metres long, can reach 25 knots and, at 12 knots, have a range of 5500 miles and can stay at sea for 35 days.

They're designed to be easy to operate with a crew of 60 and will perform a range of tasks, including special operations and maritime law enforcement.

The patrol boats also have accommodation for 50 fully-equipped troops, can conduct helicopter operations and will be able to board suspect vessels using fast interceptor craft.

BVT will also provide training support and long-term maintenance.

The programme is supported by the Ministry of Defence, which is providing advice to the Caribbean country's government and operational training for its crews.

Reproduced with the permission of the Herald & Times Group.

  • Vessels at BVT's Scotstoun shipyard