First Type 26 frigate will be laid down next summer

The first steel will be cut on the Navy’s next-generation frigates next summer.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon today announced work would start on the hull of the first of eight Type 26 Global Combat Ships – as yet unnamed.

It begins a construction programme which will start to replace ageing Type 23 frigates (the oldest still under the White Ensign, HMS Argyll, is now 27), securing shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde – and a nationwide supply and support chain – until around 2035.

Nearly £2bn has been spent to date on the Type 26 programme, from the design of the ships to the acquiring parts and systems for the first three warships in the class; more than two dozen firms are already involved, manufacturing the air weapons handling systems, gas turbines, and electric propulsion motor and drive systems.

BAE is also under contract to manufacture the Maritime Indirect Fire System, including its 5in Mk 45 gun.

During a visit to BAE’s Govan yard, Mr Fallon also announced a £100m contract with defence firm MBDA to deliver the Sea Ceptor air defence missile; it is currently being fitted to Type 23 as a replacement for the veteran Seawolf and will be the first line of defence for Type 26s against air attack. 

And the Defence Secretary and BAE also said a contract would soon be finalised for the two extra Offshore Patrol Vessels in addition to HM Ships Forth, Medway and Trent which are in various stages of construction on the Clyde.

Ships four and five will be built and handed over to the RN by 2019 – before work on the Type 26s is in full swing.

Further down the line will come five general-purpose frigates, the Type 31s, which will not be as ‘high spec’ as the 26s.