A MERE 35 per cent of the steel that will be used to build the Navy’s new Type 26 global combat ships will be provided by British suppliers, with the bulk of the metal to be sourced from Sweden.

A £3.7 billion contract was agreed earlier this month, guaranteeing the first three ships are built at BAE Systems’s yards on the River Clyde.

The fleet will comprise eight ships, with the contract for the second batch of five to be negotiated in the early 2020s.

Despite the deal securing 1700 jobs in Scotland and a further 1700 elsewhere in the UK, the Community steelworkers’ union has described the government’s have not been good enough.

Replying to written parliamentary questions from Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, Defence Minister Harriet Baldwin announced: “Around 4000 tonnes of steel will be required to build each Type 26 frigate.

“Steel will be sourced principally from the UK and Sweden. For some grades of plate steel, the combination of thickness, size and flatness specifications needed for the Type 26 frigates mean the steel cannot be sourced in its entirety in the UK.

“We expect that around 35 per cent of the steel required to build each Type 26 frigate will be sourced from UK suppliers in Scotland and Scunthorpe; approximately 1400 tonnes per ship”.

Baldwin added: “Responsibility for sourcing steel for the Type 26 frigates rests with BAE Systems as the contractor.

“In accordance with Government guidelines on the procurement of steel, the company has run a competition to select a supplier of steel for the programme.”

The national officer of the Community union, Roy Rickhuss, expressed his dissatisfaction with the news.

He said: “British steel is among 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 we can’t make the right sort of steel.

“If we had a proper industrial strategy, our steelworks would be equipped to meet the challenges.”

BAE said: “Following an open competitive bid process, Yorkshire-based Dent Steel UK has been selected to source steel for the first three ships.

“Approximately 50 per cent of the value of steel will be British, equating to around 35 per cent of the overall weight.”