SPECULATION over where the Royal Navy’s new breed of frigates will be based has come to an end this morning with an announcement by defence secretary Gavin Williamson.
All eight of the state-of-the-art warships will be based at HMNB Devonport, in Plymouth, putting to bed hopes any of the new ships will call Portsmouth home.
The eight Type 26 frigates will start being delivered to the Royal Navy from the mid-2020s, with steel already having been cut on the first, HMS Glasgow.
The 6,900-tonne frigates will be among the most advanced in the world, specialising in anti-submarine warfare.
As well as becoming the future workhorses of the fleet, they will also play a critical role in protecting the Royal Navy’s two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, both of which are based in Portsmouth.
Speaking from Devonport, Mr 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.
Ships have set sail from Devonport’s dock to defend our great nation for hundreds of years and I can reveal that the truly world-class Type 26 frigates will follow in that wake.’
The news comes after a campaign by Portsmouth to have the frigates based in the city.
Politicians had hoped the city, which currently is the home of six of the 13 frigates, would share some of the new warships with Plymouth.
City dockyard workers had said this would be an ideal situation, providing much-needed maritime maintenance jobs in Portsmouth.
However, naval experts had previous suggested Plymouth would make more sense for the Type 26s to be based.
It followed news in November last year about a major reshuffle of where the Royal Navy would home-port the current fleet of Type 23 frigates.
All eight of the current warships, which specialise in anti-submarine warfare, are due to move to the west country base as part of the shake-up.
Gavin Williamson revealed the city will now have five Type 23 frigates base-ported at it by 2023 – one less than the city currently has.
The shake-up will also see some vessels changing ports, with the eight anti-submarine warfare frigates now all based in Plymouth and the five general purpose ones here. Among the new names in Portsmouth will be HMS Argyll, HMS Monmouth and HMS Montrose – all formerly based at Devonport Naval Base.
HMS Lancaster and Iron Duke are the only vessels to remain in Portsmouth from the current fleet. St Albans, Westminster, Richmond and Kent will all go to Plymouth.
HMS Richmond was the first to depart, leaving earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the first Type 26 frigates have already been ordered in a £3.7bn deal by the Ministry of Defence.
The first four of the City-class warships have already been named HMS Glasgow, HMS Cardiff, HMS Belfast and HMS Birmingham.
The formidable anti-submarine warfare ships will include an embarked helicopter, powerful sonar detection systems, ship and helicopter launched torpedoes and a design which makes Type 26s extremely difficult for submarines to pin-point.
The frigates will be based in Devonport along with a large portion of the navy’s submarine fleet.