The eight Type 26 frigates being built for the Royal Navy will be homeported in Devonport, UK defense secretary Gavin Williamson has announced.
The 6,900-tonne frigates will be anti-submarine warships and will provide protection for the UK nuclear deterrent and the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
Speaking aboard Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose in Devonport, Gavin Williamson said:
“The largest naval base in western Europe, Devonport is the lifeblood of Plymouth and is as synonymous with this city as it is with our famous Royal Navy.”
“We are living in increasingly dangerous times, with threats intensifying both on and beneath the water. Plymouth should be in no doubt that it will be right at the heart of Britain’s fight for a safer world by homing these formidable warships.”
Devonport has been supporting the Royal Navy since 1691, with the site covering more than 650 acres with four miles of waterfront. Alongside frigates, it is home to Britain’s survey vessels and amphibious ships which will be staying in service despite previous speculation.
The base employs 2,500 people, supporting around 400 local firms and generating around 10% of Plymouth’s income. It is a key part of defence’s huge footprint in the South West, where the MOD spends £5.1bn with industry – more than in any other part of the country.
The eight Type 26s will replace the current anti-submarine warfare Type 23 frigates. They will make up the next-generation of the navy’s fleet, along with a first batch of five Type 31e frigates. The decision on where the Type 31e frigates will be based is still to be made.
The first three Type 26 ships have already been ordered for £3.7 billion from BAE Systems’ yards on the Clyde. The first four have already been named as HMS Glasgow, HMS Cardiff, HMS Belfast and HMS Birmingham.
The frigates will include an embarked helicopter, powerful sonar detection systems, ship and helicopter-launched torpedoes and a design which makes the Type 26 difficult for enemy submarines to detect.
The move follows the announcement last year that the eight Type 23 ships fitted with a towed array sonar tail would all be based in Devonport, making the site a center of excellence in anti-submarine warfare. The five general purpose Type 23 frigates are now based in Portsmouth, which is also the home of the UK’s Type 45 destroyers and new aircraft carriers.