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Saturday, 6 May, 2000, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Frigate launch prompts industry fears
Govan yard
Worries continue for the Clyde's Govan yard
A newly-built Royal Navy vessel was launched on the Clyde as concern grows for the future of Scotland's shipbuilding industry.

HMS St Albans is the 16th and final member of the navy's fleet of Type 23 anti-submarine frigates.

The 3,800 tonne vessel, which will carry a crew of 189, was launched on Saturday by Lady Susie Essenhigh, wife of the Commander in Chief of the Fleet, Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh.


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A strong campaign is being waged by unions
HMS St Albans was built at BAE Systems' Yarrows Yard in Scotstoun, Glasgow.

The ceremony comes amid concerns for the future of shipbuilding in Scotland.

It is feared BAE Systems' Govan yard will lose a major Ministry of Defence contract for a fleet of roll-on roll-off ferries to Germany.

If it misses out on the 1bn contract, the winner of which is due to be announced later this summer, it will face certain closure with the loss of 3,000 jobs.

'Value for money'

Known as the Duke Class, Type 23 frigates operate against submarines, with HMS St Albans due to be equipped with a Merlin anti-submarine helicopter.

Defence Procurement Minister Baroness Symons said: "BAE Systems' Yarrows shipyard have provided the Royal Navy with an excellent and hard working class of ships which have already proved their worth on operations around the world.

"The launch of St Albans is another testament to the quality and value for money of this project. We look forward to carrying on working successfully together well into the 21st century with the next generation of revolutionary warship."

Last month Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers said orders for the Type 45 destroyers and other naval contracts could be brought forward to secure the future of British yards.

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See also:

20 Apr 00 | Scotland
'No decision' on MoD order
17 Apr 00 | Scotland
Reid 'aware of Govan's plight'
13 Apr 00 | Scotland
Scots firm in ferry consortium
12 Apr 00 | Scotland
Unions support ferry compromise
12 Apr 00 | Scotland
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