The 80 employees of Mainstay Marine Solutions in Pembroke Dock cheered as the first steel was cut on Wales’ warship by Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan at a ceremony at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Govan on the River Clyde.
Mainstay initially won an order to fabricate three 15 metre high communications masts for the new frigates for Hampshire based STS Defence, who are themselves sub-contracted to a BAE Systems main contractor Rhode and Schwarz. Another Welsh firm, Renold Couplings, are also a Type 26 main subcontractor and supply the Type 26 frigates with flexible drive shaft couplings from Cardiff.
Such was the precision and quality of Mainstay’s naval architects, design engineers, fabricators and fitters, the firm soon won a second Type 26 order, to fit out the masts ready to be placed directly on the ships, and then a third – to carry out repair work on the comms mast of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 air defence destroyers too.
“Our work for STS Defence to supply the Royal Navy has quickly grown to around 15% of our £6m turnover,” said Stewart Graves, managing director, Mainstay Marine Solutions.
“It is a tremendous boost to the skills of our workforce here in Pembroke Dock, which was, of course, itself a naval dockyard a couple of hundred years ago.
“Our business has been traditionally designing, building, maintaining and repairing steel and aluminium boats up to about 45 m in length. More recently we have secured significant contracts from the renewable energy sector building wave, tidal and potentially floating wind devices. So, it is really exciting for us to be contributing to the UK’s next generation of frigates and to think that our masts will help HMS Cardiff keep in contact with her HQ wherever she is in the world!”
UK Government Minister for Wales Kevin Foster said:
“The Royal Navy’s new world beating Type 26 anti-submarine frigates are a true UK-wide enterprise, directly supporting highly skilled and well-paid jobs here in Wales and across the UK.
“These ships will contribute to UK and allied security and make a strong economic contribution to the country, providing local, Welsh businesses such as Mainstay Marine Solutions with significant contracts. With Australia and Canada also adopting the Type 26 design for their warship build programmes, new export opportunities will be generated for the Pembroke based company as well as businesses across the country involved in the construction.”
The cutting-edge frigates for the Royal Navy will replace the current anti-submarine warfare Type 23 frigates and provide advanced protection to the Continuous at Sea Deterrent and Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and offer unrivalled anti-submarine warfare capability.
Each Type 26 will be equipped with a range of capabilities including the Sea-Ceptor missile defence system, a 5-inch medium calibre gun, an embarked helicopter, medium range radar, powerful bow and towed array sonars and a design which makes them extremely difficult for enemy submarines to detect. They will be designed for joint and multinational operations across the full spectrum of warfare, including complex combat operations, counter piracy, humanitarian aid and disaster relief work.
The first Type 26 warship, HMS Glasgow, will enter service in the mid-2020s. Designed for a service life of at least 25 years, the Type 26 frigates will serve in the future Royal Navy surface fleet into the 2060s.
The first three ships, HMS Glasgow, HMS Cardiff and HMS Belfast, have been ordered. HMSs Edinburgh, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle and London will form the second batch of Type 26 warships.