Scunthorpe steel to be used for Royal Navy fleet - but Sweden gets lion's share of contract

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 14 Jul 2017

More than 11,000 tonnes of steel from Scunthorpe will be used to build the hulls of the Royal Navy’s fleet of eight new Type 26 frigates, it has been revealed.

But the town’s MP Nic Dakin has expressed disappointment in the Government’s decision to source 65 per cent of the steel for the £8 billion contract from Sweden.

The Ministry of Defence has insisted some grades of plate steel and the combination of thickness, size and flatness specifications needed for the new fleet cannot be sourced entirely in the UK.

But Roy Rickhuss, the leader of the Scunthorpe steel industry biggest union Community, said "British steel is some of the best in the world and our Government should be using this project to help British steelworkers.

"It’s not good enough for the Government to say that we can’t make the right sort of steel. If we had a proper industrial strategy our steelworks would equipped to meet the challenges.

"Steelworkers have made big sacrifices over the past few years; it’s now time for the Government to bring forward a strategy for steel that supports our industry and our steel communities."

In a series of written answers in the House of Commons, Defence Minister Harriet Baldwin said: "Around 4,000 tonnes of steel will be required to build each Type 26 frigate. Steel will be sourced principally from the UK and Sweden.

"We expect around 35 per cent of steel for each ship will be sourced from UK suppliers in Scotland and Scunthorpe, approximately 1,400 tonnes per ship."

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Mr Dakin said he felt a fairer system should be in place for procurement of steel on projects such as this one.

He said: "We shouldn't have preferential treatment but it should be fair and by not giving the right line of sight, they are allowing themselves to argue that the steel could not be produced in the UK when it could be.

Nic Dakin has expressed disappointment at the Governments procurement practice. (Image: David Haber)

"The Ministry of Defence is failing to deliver on the procurement guidelines for steel and that is one of the areas we as steel MPs will be pushing very hard on."

A British Steel spokesman said: "It is pleasing to see that high quality steel manufactured in the UK will be used in the Royal Navy’s new frigates.

"We are in regular dialogue with the Government over a range of matters, including projects of this nature, and we look forward to continuing to work together."

It is understood slab steel from Scunthorpe will be sent by rail to Liberty House rolling mills in Dalzell and Ravenscraig to be turned into plates for the warship hulls.

The Scunthorpe plate mill, which helped build the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, has been moth-balled since March last year.

Paul MCBean, the chairman of the Scunthorpe works multi-union committee, said: "We are pleased to have received a portion of the order for the Royal Navy ships, but highly disappointed that once again, we have been let down with the procurement procedures within the UK.

"The UK steel industry has a mothballed site in Clydbridge in Scotland that is capable of rolling the steel for these ships. An order of this size would have been enough of a catalyst to start, once again the rolling of this grade of plate in Scotland.

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“British Steel already supply the steel to the Dalzell plant in Motherwell Scotland, and would be more than happy to re-start our supply chain with Clydbridge.

“After many meetings with the government, ministers and civil servants and assurances that they would do their utmost to look after our UK steel plants and make sure that UK suppliers would get the chance to put forward their case, this feels like a kick in the teeth to UK steelworkers.

“We still have no assurances over the HS2 or Hinckley point orders, even at this late stage, so I suppose I am not surprised at this latest let down by the UK Government to the steelworkers and their towns and communities."


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