BAE Systems welcomed Mr Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of Defence Equipment and Support, to its Govan shipyard in Glasgow today to cut the first metal and begin construction of SPEY, the fifth and final River Class Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) for the Royal Navy.
To mark the occasion, employees were joined at a ceremony by representatives of the Royal Navy and the local community as Mr Douglas operated the plasma cutting machine to cut the first steel plates for SPEY.
BAE Systems has recently invested over £2 million in new technology for its Fabrication Facility, including the introduction of two robotic welding machines and a new laser cutting machine, which will be used on SPEY and the Type 26 Global Combat Ship later this year.
DE&S CEO Tony Douglas, said; “The team at Defence Equipment and Support has driven the successful delivery of the OPV programme; today’s steel cut is a proud moment not only for us, but for the Royal Navy and our industry partners too.
“I am looking forward to continuing this long-standing and close relationship when we begin manufacturing for the Type 26 fleet later in the summer.”
Iain Stevenson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: “It is special occasions such as the steel cut of SPEY today that help us reflect on the importance of what we do, delivering the ships that will protect our nation’s interests at home and abroad.
“We are investing in the latest digital design technologies and new processes which enable us to deliver the quality ships and help to secure the long-term future of our highly skilled industry in the UK. We now have five OPVs in various stages of construction at our shipyards in Glasgow and I look forward to seeing the first of class Type 26 Global Combat Ship start to take shape in the summer of this year.”
This OPV design differs from the Royal Navy's existing River Class ships but there are variants already in service in Brazil and Thailand which puts capability at the forefront of their navies.
The first vessel, HMS FORTH, entered the water in August 2016, less than two years after construction started, and is now preparing for sea trials before being delivered to the Royal Navy by the end of 2017.
Work on the River Class OPVs continues to sustain skills in Glasgow and the wider supply chain, with more than 100 companies in the programme across the UK.