Steel has been cut on the first of the second batch of Type 26 warships, following a £4.2 billion contract awarded to BAE Systems in November 2022.

Type 26 frigates
  • Steel has been cut for HMS Birmingham, formally marking the start of the build of the second batch of Type 26 frigates.
  • Following a £4.2 billion contract for Batch 2 awarded to BAE Systems in November last year.
  • 1,700 jobs sustained in Scotland and a further 2,300 across the UK supply chain.

The Minister for Defence Procurement, Alex Chalk KC, marked the occasion at the steel cutting ceremony, with HMS Birmingham becoming the fourth of eight anti-submarine warships being constructed for the Royal Navy at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Govan, Glasgow.

Building on ambitions laid out in the National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh, this represents another significant milestone for the Type 26 programme, the Royal Navy and UK Defence, reinforcing Defence’s commitment to shipbuilding in Scotland.

With all eight frigates to be built in Govan, and the work sustaining some 1,700 jobs in Scotland with a further 2,300 jobs across the wider UK supply chain, delivering on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the UK.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Alex Chalk KC, said:

This is yet another significant milestone for the Type 26 programme, supporting thousands of jobs in Scotland and across the wider UK supply chain.

Working closely with our industry partners, we are bringing in a cutting-edge class of warships for the Royal Navy, bolstering our maritime capabilities into the coming decades.

The frigates will replace the bulk of the retiring Type 23 fleet with its primary role of anti-submarine warfare, protecting the UK’s Continuous At-Sea Deterrent and Maritime Strike Group. The first of the second batch of Type 26 ships, HMS Birmingham will be preceded by HMS Glasgow, HMS Cardiff and HMS Belfast.

At just under 150 metres long, almost the length of 3 Olympic swimming pools, and with a top speed of more than 26 knots and a range of more than 7,000 nautical miles, the vessels will also be capable of countering piracy and delivering humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

The Type 26 vessels will be armed with the Sea Ceptor missile defence system, able to destroy airborne and sea surface targets. They will also carry a five-inch medium calibre gun, a helicopter, Artisan 997 radar and sonar for navigation and tracking adversaries.

DE&S Director General Ships, Vice Admiral Paul Marshall, said:

The steel cut for HMS Birmingham is a significant moment for everyone who has worked, and is working, on the Type 26 programme to deliver the best possible warships to serve the Royal Navy for decades to come. I look forward to seeing the second batch of frigates taking shape.

Celebrating the next HMS Birmingham, with four ships having previously taken the name, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham was also present at the steel-cut.

Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Maureen Cornish JP, said:

I am delighted to have attended today’s sheet cutting ceremony, which will see work begin on building a new HMS Birmingham, further strengthening the city’s ties with the Royal Navy.

It will be fantastic to see this new Type 26 anti-submarine frigate serve HMS Birmingham’s current and future crews well as part of the new fleet being built in Govan, Scotland.

BAE Systems continues to invest in the programme and has submitted a planning application for a new 175 metre long, 85 metre wide, shipbuilding hall at Govan, which will allow two frigates to be built simultaneously under cover. This investment will be a major factor in the final five ships costing less and being delivered in quicker time than the first three.

Simon Lister, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Naval Ships business, said:

This is another proud moment for our talented teams across the UK who have played a part in the design and construction of these important vessels. HMS Birmingham will benefit from a range of investments that will transform our digital and physical infrastructure and consolidate a centre of excellence for shipbuilding skills here in the UK. Alongside my teams I’d like to thank our customers and suppliers for their expertise and commitment as we take this programme forward and deliver the next generation City Class frigates for the Royal Navy.

The Type 26 design has also been successfully exported to UK allies, with programmes for nine Australian Hunter Class and 15 Canadian Surface Combatants underway. This will provide a long-term opportunity for all three nations to work together to exploit supply chain efficiencies and interoperability on operations.

Construction of all of the city-class frigates is expected to be completed by the mid-2030s, with HMS Glasgow, the first in class, entering service by the end of 2028. Designed for a service life of at least 25 years, the Type 26 frigates will serve in the future Royal Navy surface fleet into the 2060s.

Published 4 April 2023