Sponsored by Lincad
16 Aug 19. Strength of British military falls for ninth year. The size of Britain’s armed forces has fallen for the ninth consecutive year, new Ministry of Defence figures show. The Army, the RAF and the Royal Navy have all seen a decline in the number of fully-trained personnel – with the Army experiencing the biggest fall. Labour said the government was “running down” the UK military – calling it a “crisis” in recruitment and retention. The Ministry of Defence said the armed forces continued to meet all their operational requirements. The latest figures showed the Army was more than 7,000 troops short of the government’s target of 82,000. In July there were 74,440 full-time and fully-trained troops, down from 76,880 last year. There were smaller declines for the RAF and navy but they also failed to meet their target strength.
The RAF total stood at 29,930 of the required 31,840, while the Royal Navy and Royal Marines dropped to 29,090 of the required 30,600.
The MoD said it has been working hard to improve recruitment, adding that applications to join the Army were at a five-year high.
However, 14,880 people also left – up from 14,860 in 2018.
Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said the government was running down the armed forces “year after year” and the numbers were “well below their own targets”.
She said: “Ministers are either in complete denial about this crisis in recruitment and retention, or they are actively in favour of cutting the armed forces to these historically low levels.”
MPs have repeatedly raised concerns over the use of private firm Capita in recruitment and wider efforts to retain personnel.
Capita was awarded the £495m contract for Army recruitment in 2012 – but has failed to hit soldier recruitment targets every year since. In December last year, a National Audit Office report found that the Army’s £113m recruitment website was 52 months late. (Source: BBC)
15 Aug 19. Frigates programme helps Govan buck shipyard gloom. Type 26 expected to provide work at BAE’s warship division into 2030s. Glasgow’s Govan shipyard was not where BAE Systems wanted to build the Royal Navy’s new generation of frigates. And the UK’s largest defence contractor wanted to build many more than the eight already ordered or under discussion. But Steve Timms, BAE managing director for naval ships, is not complaining. Though smaller than originally hoped, the Type 26 frigate programme has given BAE’s Glasgow yards on the River Clyde a degree of security unusual in the UK’s battered shipbuilding sector. The bright outlook contrasts with the gloom hanging over the country’s civilian shipyards. In the last few weeks Harland and Wolff in Belfast has collapsed and Ferguson Marine, the last civilian shipbuilder on the Clyde, has announced plans to go into administration.
Mr Timms said the Type 26 would provide work for BAE’s warship building arm well into the 2030s. Australia and Canada are planning to build versions of the frigate, which the government bills as the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warship, even before the first in the class is finished, he said. “We can see two decades of capability as a result of the Type 26 programme,” he said. “It’s more surety than we’ve had for many years.” Anne-Marie Trevelyan, UK defence minister, on Wednesday cut the first steel for the second Type 26, HMS Cardiff. The third, HMS Belfast, is to follow in the first half of 2021. BAE’s confidence has implications well beyond the high red brick walls of the sprawling Govan yard on the south bank of the Clyde. The frigate programme has been one of the most contentious UK procurement sagas of recent years and the future of BAE’s Clyde yards — and the 3,000 people employed at them — is politically sensitive in Scotland.
In the run-up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, BAE announced it would focus its warship building operations on the Clyde and drew up plans for a £200m “frigate factory” at its Scotstoun yard on the river’s north bank. Recommended Northern Ireland Demise of Harland and Wolff strikes at Belfast’s identity The frigate factory was abandoned over cost worries, however, so the ships have to be started at the Govan yard before moving 3km to Scotstoun for completion. And the UK government’s decision to cut the number of Type 26 frigates it will buy from 13 to eight prompted accusations of betrayal from the pro-independence Scottish National party that governs Scotland. But now the first Type 26, HMS Glasgow, is taking shape in a hulking Govan shed, and BAE, which has invested £100m in the Type 26 programme in Glasgow, insists the project is going smoothly after a long and fraught genesis. HMS Glasgow, 150m long and with a top speed of more than 26 knots, is set to be delivered by the mid-2020s as required by the £3.7bn 2017 contract for the first three Type 26s, said Nadia Savage, BAE programme director. “We are absolutely on track to deliver our commitments to the Royal Navy,” said Ms Savage. The foreign, multibillion pound deals, include nine ships for Australia, to be built there by a BAE subsidiary, and up to 15 for Canada, to be built under contract. Mr Timms said New Zealand was “clearly interested” in acquiring two or three. Ms Savage said the success in selling an unproven warship was aided by BAE’s use of a detailed electronic design model. The virtual ship, on view in 3D in a Govan “visualisation suite”, allows more efficient design of the separate modules from which the frigate is assembled and a highly detailed view of how it will eventually appear.
“This technology has enabled the customers to really appreciate how mature the design actually is,” she said. While BAE’s yards are busy with work, concerns are rife about the health of the rest of Britain’s shipyards, particularly since the government has cut the number of Royal Navy warships over the years. No new construction orders have been placed since a national shipbuilding strategy was launched in September 2017 with the aim of ending the industry’s boom-and-bust cycle. And a competition to build new support ships for the Royal Navy has been put out to international tender, stoking fears of an uneven playing field against foreign yards backed by their governments.
Francis Tusa of Defence Analysis, an industry newsletter, said the strategy “failed to understand the economics of the naval industry”. With only a limited number of orders, the ambition to sustain “a shipyard on every estuary in Britain is simply not a reality”, he said, adding: “If you want more than one warship yard, you would need to double the amount of spend.” How the Type 26 frigate will look © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/FT Limited capacity at the Glasgow yards also means BAE would not be able to use them to build the five cut-price Type 31e frigates that the UK government plans to order instead of the five further Type 26s. BAE has partnered with Liverpool-based Cammell Laird to bid to build the Type 31e and is one of three teams shortlisted. But the Type 31e competition has been threatened by the collapse of Harland and Wolff, which is part of a consortium bidding to build the frigates that also includes Ferguson Marine. Despite the industry’s woes, Govan managers said morale at the yard was high. Patrick Cairns, a BAE engineering apprentice whose father and grandfather worked in shipbuilding, said he was unconcerned about joining an industry that is notorious for cycles of boom and bust. “I’m confident there’s going to be a lot of work going into the future,” he said. (Source: FT.com)
16 Aug 19. Scottish government takes over management of Ferguson Marine shipyard. Authorities to assume ownership in four weeks if no ‘viable commercial offer’ made. The Scottish government’s move was welcomed by unions. The Scottish government on Friday took management control over the last civilian shipyard on the river Clyde after it collapsed because of the soaring costs of a contract with a state-owned ferry company.
In a deal with the administrators of Ferguson Marine Engineering in Port Glasgow, the government will take ownership of the yard within the next month unless another party makes a “viable commercial offer” for it. The Scottish government’s move was welcomed by unions and contrasts sharply with the UK government’s refusal to rescue Harland and Wolff. The Belfast shipyard, famous for building the Titanic, went into administration this month. It means that ministers of the governing Scottish National party will now be responsible for securing the long-term future of the last remnant of the once-mighty civilian Clyde shipbuilding sector. Public ownership however could make it harder to bid for some contracts under state-aid rules. Derek Mackay, Scotland’s economy secretary, said taking immediate control of Ferguson Marine would ensure continuity of employment at the yard, which has around 300 staff, and ensure the long-delayed completion of two high-tech ferries “at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer”.
The ferries, which will run on marine diesel or cleaner liquefied natural gas, are being built at the yard for Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMal), which owns and manages Scottish ferries and harbours for the state. “It is absolutely essential that the outstanding contracts to build these two ferries are completed in order to sustain the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services network and provide vital support for the economies of our island communities,” Mr Mackay said in a statement. The takeover is likely to fuel calls for an inquiry into what went wrong with the fixed-price design-and-build £97m contract for the two ferries, the first of which was supposed to go into service in 2018. Jim McColl, the businessman and then Scottish government adviser who rescued Ferguson Marine in 2014, has blamed the delays and cost-overruns of more than £60m on late design changes demanded by CMal. A review ordered by the government broadly backed CMal’s insistence that the higher costs were the yard’s problem. But the Scottish Conservatives called for a parliamentary inquiry into the SNP’s handling of what it called a “national embarrassment”.
Jamie Greene, the Scottish Tory transport spokesman said: “The SNP government’s decision to barge in and use ministerial powers to take over the yard simply covers up the true extent of how much they have messed up this bungled ferry contract.” The Scottish government, which had loaned Ferguson Marine £45m in an effort to keep the yard going, said it had appointed marine engineer Tim Hair as yard “turnround director” and would seek to establish what action was needed to finish the two ferries and how much they would cost. Mr Mackay said he had not been willing to consider standing aside while the yard went into administration and its new management would focus on completing the ferries. “We will also be working closely with staff and the trade unions — as well as suppliers and customers — to achieve the best possible outcome for the yard,” he said.
The GMB and Unite unions welcomed the takeover. “We must be clear that nationalisation will not be a quick-fix and there will be challenges,” Gary Cook, GMB Scotland organiser said. “But the alternative to nationalisation was closure and that was no choice at all.” Mr McColl, who had wanted the government to take a stake in the yard, has accused it of abusing its power and claimed that nationalisation of the yard will make it more expensive to complete the vessels. His engineering investment group, Clyde Blowers Capital, said the Scottish government had not involved it or Ferguson Marine directors ahead of Friday’s announcement. “We are unaware of the deal that the [government] have made behind the scenes and, as a result, are unable to provide any further comment at this stage,” Clyde Blowers said. (Source: FT.com)
Lincad is a leading expert in the design and manufacture of batteries, chargers and associated products for a range of applications across a number of different sectors. With a heritage spanning more than three decades in the defence and security sectors, Lincad has particular expertise in the development of reliable, ruggedised products with high environmental, thermal and electromagnetic performance. With a dedicated team of engineers and production staff, all product is designed and manufactured in-house at Lincad’s facility in Ash Vale, Surrey. Lincad is ISO 9001 and TickITplus accredited and works closely with its customers to satisfy their power management requirements.
Lincad is also a member of the Joint Supply Chain Accreditation Register (JOSCAR), the accreditation system for the aerospace, defence and security sectors, and is certified with Cyber Essentials, the government-backed, industry supported scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common cyber attacks. The majority of Lincad’s products contain high energy density lithium-ion technology, but the most suitable technology for each customer requirement is employed, based on Lincad’s extensive knowledge of available electrochemistries. Lincad offers full life cycle product support services that include repairs and upgrades from point of introduction into service, through to disposal at the end of a product’s life. From product inception, through to delivery and in-service product support, Lincad offers the high quality service that customers expect from a recognised British supplier.