Slippage in work to build the Royal Navy’s new anti-submarine frigates on the Clyde may be “clawed back” as the project recovers from the pandemic, a defence minister of state has said.

The Earl of Minto, who represents the Ministry of Defence in the House of Lords, said there has been progress in the Type 26 frigate programme and praised “remarkable” investment at the BAE Systems shipyard in Govan, Glasgow.

Last week, he visited HMS Cardiff at the yard, the second of the 6,000-tonne frigate hulls to leave BAE’s assembly hall.

It is expected to be taken down the Clyde in the second half of this year before being fitted out in Scotstoun, where the first ship of the class – HMS Glasgow – is currently having its systems installed.

The Earl Minto with HMS Cardiff at BAE Systems in Govan (BAE/PA)

The frigates are expected to begin their service with the navy starting from October 2028, a year later than initially planned.

Asked if there had been any change in the latest deadlines, the Earl of Minto told the PA news agency: “There was obviously some slippage from the initial deadlines and that was driven by Covid.

“But I don’t think there’s been any change, in fact if anything they are trying to claw back some of those initial losses.

“Actually having gone through what we’ve seen today, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they don’t succeed in doing that.”

A new enclosed hall is currently being built next to BAE’s existing facility and work on the frigates is expected to speed up considerably once it is complete.

Ben Wallace visit to BAE Govan shipyard
HMS Glasgow has already left Govan (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Conservative peer, whose name is Timothy Lariston Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, said BAE has made a “quite remarkable” investment in the Glasgow shipyard and Scotland has an “extremely important” role in naval shipbuilding.

Earlier in February, the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth was unable to sail on a major Nato exercise after a defect on its propeller shaft coupling was discovered.

Repairs will be carried out at the dockyard in Rosyth, Fife, but the Earl of Minto said the problem is not currently believed to be as serious as the propeller shaft issues which led to nine months of work on its sister aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales.

Speaking ahead of the two-year anniversary of the full-scale war in Ukraine breaking out, he said the UK’s support would continue and  it is “absolutely imperative that Russia must not be allowed to prevail”.