The first of the Royal Navy’s next-generation frigates will be laid down before the month is out after a £3.7 billion order was placed for three Type 26s.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon yesterday announced the contract with BAE Systems to deliver the first batch of global combat ships.
They will be the first three of eight vessels to replace the equivalent number of specialist submarine-hunting Type 23 frigates currently in service.
Shipbuilding yards on the Clyde will be responsible for building and fitting out the trio, with the first of the as-yet-unnamed class entering service in the mid-2020s.
The work will support and sustain 3,400 jobs – half in the shipyards, half in the supply chain providing parts.
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones said: “For an island nation, dependent on maritime trade, a strong Royal Navy is essential for our national security and economic prosperity.
“Today there are over 500 submarines in the world operated by 40 navies. As one of the quietest and most potent submarine-hunters of any Navy, the Type 26 will have a crucial role to play to protect the nuclear deterrent and our two new aircraft carriers.
“Although designed to fight and win in the most demanding scenarios, they will also work alongside our international partners to protect and promote the United Kingdom’s interests around the world.”
These world-class warships will protect the nation’s nuclear deterrent and the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, the first of which, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has recently taken to sea for the first time.
The ships specialise in anti-submarine warfare, protecting the UK’s overseas territories and interests across the globe. The flexible design will allow the capabilities to be adapted throughout its lifespan to counter future threats.
The Type 26 frigates are 60ft longer and 2,000 tonnes heavier than their predecessors, equipped with bow and towed array sonar, Sea Ceptor air defence missiles and a 5ins main gun.
The ships are also equipped with a mission bay for plug-in containers carrying equipment for specific tasks, such as disaster relief, and a flight deck big enough to take a Chinook – though the Fleet Air Arm’s Merlin and Wildcat helicopters will be more common.
In due course, the Type 26’s firepower will be bolstered by the future offensive surface weapon – the missile currently being developed to replace the Harpoon.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: “The Type 26 Frigate is a cutting-edge warship, combining the expertise of the British shipbuilding industry with the excellence of the Royal Navy. We will cut steel on the first ship later this month – a hugely significant milestone that delivers on our commitment to maintain our global naval power. These ships will be a force to be reckoned with, there to protect our powerful new carriers and helping keep British interests safe across the world.
“Backed by a rising defence budget and a £178 billion equipment plan, the Type 26 programme will bring vast economic benefits to Scotland and the wider UK. The contract is structured to ensure value for taxpayers’ money and, importantly, now designed to protect them from extra bills from project overrun. The investment will secure hundreds of skilled jobs at BAE Systems on the Clyde for the next twenty years, and thousands of jobs in the supply chain across Britain. “
Typically just 157 men and women – 30-40 fewer than a Type 23 – will run these ships, but there will be space aboard for up to 208 souls.
Today’s deal also reaffirms the commitment made by the Government in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR15) to build eight Type 26 ships.
The contract for the second batch of five ships is expected to be negotiated in the early 2020s, paving the way to sustain further jobs in Scotland and across the wider supply chain for many years to come.