The UK has announced the order of a further five Type 26 frigates for the Royal Navy. The order for the anti-submarine warfare frigates, also known as the City Class, is worth £4.2 billion ($4.94 billion). Three of the Type 26 frigates are currently under construction at shipyards in Scotland, they are set to replace the currently in-service Type 23 Duke class. The newly-ordered second batch of Type 26s will round out the class to eight vessels.
The UK’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is currently attending the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Sunak pointed to the threat posed by Russia in his announcement of the frigate order, saying:
“Russia’s actions put all of us at risk. As we give the Ukrainian people the support they need, we are also harnessing the breadth and depth of UK expertise to protect ourselves and our allies. This includes building the next generation of British warships.
The UK government’s statement said that the project will support 1,700 jobs at the BAE systems sites in Govan and Scotstoun, Glasgow, where the ships are being constructed, over the next decade. With a further 2,300 jobs to be supported in the supply chain spanning UK industry.
The order is no surprise as it was planned to follow up the first batch of three frigates ordered with a follow on order for five more. 13 Type 23s were originally planned, however, defense cuts saw this number reduced to eight in favour with an additional five smaller and cheaper Type 31 frigates ordered from Babcock in 2019. The BAE’s modular Global Combat Ship is also the basis of the Royal Australian Navy’s Hunter Class of nine frigates ordered in June 2018 and is also set to be the basis of the Royal Canadian Navy’s future Canadian Surface Combatant.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“We are investing in our fleet to ensure our Royal Navy maintains its world-leading capability to protect and defend our nation at sea. This design has already been successfully exported to Australia and Canada, proving itself as a world-class maritime capability, securing thousands of UK jobs and strengthening alliances with our allies.”
The Type 26 evolved from the Future Surface Combatant program which began in the late 1990s and was followed by the Global Combat Ship project in 2010. The first batch of three ships was ordered in 2017 at a cost of £3.7 billion. The first ship of the class, HMS Glasgow, is expected to be launched before the end of 2022, with a planned commissioning date expected in 2028. A further Royal Navy frigate class is also under development. The Type 32 class with provide general purpose frigates with autonomous systems integration. It was announced that development of the Type 32 class had entered the concept phase in November 2021, with as many as five vessels expected to make up the class.
Header image: Render of the future Type 26 Global Combat Ship (Royal Navy/BAE)