60 second interview: Mick Ord, BAE Systems Naval Ships

The Manufacturer talks to Mick Ord, managing director of BAE Systems Naval Ships.

You are currently working on the second of three new patrol vessels at the BAE Systems Scotsoun site in Glasgow. Is there anything special about this one?

Mike Ord, managing director, BAE Systems Naval Ships
Mike Ord, managing director, BAE Systems Naval Ships.

All three are really important ships for the Royal Navy and also for the UK Ship Building industry.

Each of the three ships is the same, they are the River Class Batch 2 variant, very impressive ships, 90 metres long, 1,900 tonne displacement, with a range of more than 5,000 nautical miles.

The programme allows us to transition from building the aircraft carriers, which we are doing in here in Glasgow, to building the next generation frigates for the Royal Navy next year.

How many people are involved in the design and engineering process at the Glasgow site?

Overall in our business we have more than 4,500 people who are directly involved in engineering and manufacture of complex warships.

Here in Glasgow from a production perspective, we have over 800 production staff and they are currently building blocks for the aircraft carrier.

They will all transition into building River class optimal control vessels and then next year they’ll transition into building the frigates.

The programme to build the 3OPVs is a very fast programme, we have to deliver three ships in four years and that’s a great challenge for us.

Visualisation room at BAE Systems in Govan, Glasgow.
Visualisation room at BAE Systems in Govan, Glasgow.

However, it gives us the opportunity to trial new methodologies, new techniques and technologies from both a design and manufacture perspective.

How many apprentices are involved and in which phases of the construction following the £348m contract with the MoD signed last year in August?

We always make sure that we measure our apprentice intake with regards to our forward demand and we have created many hundreds of apprenticeships since we’ve landed this contract.

Also, we’ve been working with our customer regarding what our future frigate programme looks like.

We will continue to invest in our apprenticeship scheme. I started my career as a 16 year-old apprentice, so I am a huge supporter, as is the overall business, about bringing apprentices and graduates into our business.

They bring fresh ideas and we give them the opportunity to train and build a career on programmes such as the one that we see today.

How important is it that these warships bring security to the UK and how important is it for UK manufacturing that these warships are designed and manufactured here?

Plasma steel cutting machine operated by Secretary of Defence Michael Fallon.
Plasma steel cutting machine operated by Secretary of Defence Michael Fallon.

It is a stated UK Government aim to have a Sovereign capability to design, manufacture, test and commission complex warships here in the UK.

At BAE Systems we are very proud to play a very significant role in that, so the ability to do what we are doing today and going forward is hugely important not just to our company but to the UK as a whole.

What does the future hold for BAE Systems and its ship building capability?

The river class programme, where we deliver three ships in four years. Then in September next year we’ll be back here in this very spot cutting steel for the first Type 26 frigate, that’s a very different proposition, it’s a very complex warship, weighing 7,000 tonnes and measuring 150 metres long.

The current planning assumption is 13 of those vessels and that will take manufacturing here in Glasgow well into the 2030s.