Manufacture of the first Type 26 City-class frigate for the Royal Navy (RN) has begun at BAE Systems Naval Ships’ facility at Govan on the Clyde. Construction of the future HMS Glasgow, the first of a planned class of eight ships, officially started on 20 July with a steel-cutting ceremony at the Govan yard.
This milestone followed the Ministry of Defence’s long-awaited award of a circa £3.7 million Manufacture Phase contract to BAE Systems on 29 June for the construction of the first three Type 26 ships.
The Batch 1 contract, based on a gainshare/painshare mechanism intended to performance, secures about 4,000 jobs across BAE Systems and the wider UK maritime supply chain.
Type 26 production is planned to extend into the mid-2030s; a contract for the second batch of five ships is expected to be negotiated in the early 2020s. Production will run at an approximate 24-month drumbeat, with manufacture of ships two and three to start in 2019 and 2021 respectively.
Designed for a service life of at least 25 years, the Type 26 frigate − or Global Combat Ship − will form a backbone of the future RN surface fleet into the 2060s. Intended to replace eight anti-submarine warfare (ASW)-configured Type 23 frigates, the Type 26 has been conceived as an acoustically quiet surface combatant optimised for ASW, but also capable of contributing to a range of other missions.
Key features of the design include a flexible mission bay amidships able to accommodate boats, mission payloads or stores, a 24-cell strike length Mk 41 vertical launcher, a maritime indirect fire support system based on the Mk 45 Mod 4 5in gun, the GWS 35 Sea Ceptor local area defence system (48 missiles accommodated in four eight-cell launchers), aviation facilities designed for the operation and support of two Wildcat helicopters or a single Merlin, a flight deck large enough to receive a Chinook ramp down, and a secondary hangar space sized for a maritime unmanned air system.
The Type 26 start of manufacture comes at a crucial time for the Global Combat Ship export campaigns in Australia (Project SEA 5000 Future Frigate) and Canada (Canadian Surface Combatant). Both proposed ship variants build on the RN’s Type 26 platform baseline, but have been modified to accept alternative combat systems based on local preferences/ requirements.
In each case, if the Global Combat Ship is selected then construction will be undertaken by an in-country shipyard.