Yarrow Shipbuilders expects to complete negotiations for a long-promised order from Brunei for three warships – worth at least £400m – by the middle of the year.
Yarrow was chosen for the offshore patrol vessels in late 1995. A firm contract has been delayed for around nine months. A key factor in the delay has been the continued presence in Yarrow’s Clydeside yard of the crews of two new Malaysian frigates which Yarrow has completed – but not yet delivered.
`There is no love lost’ between Brunei and Malaysia, one defence insider said, and Brunei is worried by the security implications of a Malaysian presence in the yard.
Malaysia’s frigates are being held up because of problems integrating software for their GEC Marconi Nautis-F command systems.
Last week, defence secretary Michael Portillo said agreement had been reached on supplying command, weapons and machinery systems for Brunei’s ships. Though details of the equipment `remain confidential, the majority will be manufactured in the UK,’ Portillo said.
It is understood that British weapons will include the Vertical Launch Seawolf air defence missile from British Aerospace. Construction should start in late 1998.