Royal Navy: MoD confirms number of operational frigates and destroyers as queries asked about Type 26 project
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Former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord Alan West of Spithead asked about the current status surrounding frigates in a written question submitted to the House of Lords on September 11. He enquired about whether the minimum of 19 operational vessels, of both classes, is still realistic and sufficient.
The Royal Navy is transitioning from the current model, the Type 23 frigate, over to more advanced and modernised Type 31 and Type 26 models. Baroness Annabel Goldie, a Conservative peer, said: “The government is committed to modernising the Royal Navy's escort fleet through the transition of the existing Type 23 frigate force to the Type 26 and Type 31 classes.
"This will bring the number of destroyers and frigates to 19. This is a realistic programme which will enable the Royal Navy to maintain its operational commitments.”
Work on the fourth Type 26 vessel, HMS Birmingham, began in April – with eight new warships being planned. A Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract worth £4.2bn for five ships was secured in November 2022 with BAE Systems.
Work on HMS Glasgow, HMS Cardiff and HMS Belfast is well underway. Lord West asked how the government plans to speed up the delivery of the new vessels, so the Royal Navy is not short of operational vessels.
Baroness Goldie said: “The delivery rate for the Type 26 ships is the optimum that can be achieved considering all relevant factors. Four of the Type 26 ships are now in construction on the Clyde.
"On current plans, HMS Glasgow is forecast to achieve Initial Operating Capability in 2028 and construction of all eight frigates is expected to be completed by the mid-2030s. The Type 26 Batch 2 deal introduces further investment in BAE Systems’ facilities on the Clyde, most obviously demonstrated by the start of work on a new shipbuilding hall at Govan.
"The new hall will allow two frigates to be built under cover simultaneously and allow the ships to be built faster, improving efficiency in the programme, and expanding the facilities for future work at the yard.”
The Type 26 frigate is designed for anti-submarine warfare and high-intensity air defence.