The Type 45 destroyer class has been keeping them busy in the BAe yards in Govan and Scotstoun in Glasgow for the last seven years - longer if you take into account the design phases before the first piece of metal is cut.
It takes 4,000 men and women to assemble one million pieces in 50,000 man hours into one ship, 159 metres long and 7,000 tons.
There are three functions: it has to be able to give battle, so it has weapons systems guns, missiles, radars, a helicopter and all sorts of fancy gadgetry. They call this the weapons platform.
It has to accommodate 190 sailors of all ranks, all of whom have to eat, sleep, wash, fight, and relax (there’s even a gym to keep fit). They call this the hotel.
And then it all has to move - preferably at close to 30 knots, provding enough power to run all the other funcions on board and be sufficiently efficient to go America and back on one tank of fuel. It’s enough to put you in mind of that car advert a few years ago; if you want to get on the ocean before the Brits you better get a Type 45 destroyer.
But perhaps the single most impressive part of the build of these technologically advanced ships is seeing the parts come together like a giant Airifx kit. Some of the parts, like the bow, are built 600 miles away on the south coat of England and floated up to Glasgow. Others are fabricated on site as they have been in Glasgow for 150 years.
Then with infinite care, they are moved around the dock and assembled on the slipway prior to the final launch into the Clyde. As it happens, the launch of HMS Duncan may well be the last ship ever to be launched in the traditional way into the river.
That's not because they aren't building any more ships on the Clyde; on the contrary, massive sections of the two new aircraft carriers are taking shape in the huge sheds where the destroyers were constructed. But those sections will be floated off and sent to Rosyth by barge where they will be assembled as they are too big for the Clyde.
And by the time they get to the next generation of ships, they are more likely to be built in dry dock and gently floated out, rather than the dramatic, but risky and expensive, dynamic launch.
- HMS Diamond ready for the Royal Navy
- Still shipbuilding on the Upper Clyde
- Clydebuilt - the type 45 destroyers in numbers