Navy

Watch: Frigate fleet could fall short of promised size, former Navy chief warns

Admiral Lord West’s comments came after a minister said no date had been set for ordering Type 32 frigates.

A former Royal Navy chief has raised concerns the service's fleet of frigates could fall short of the Government's promised minimum size.

Admiral Lord West's comments came after defence minister Baroness Goldie told the House of Lords no date had been set for ordering Type 32 vessels.

Additionally, the minister said the order for the second batch of Type 26 frigates would be in the 'early years' of this decade.

Announced as part of the Integrated Review, Boris Johnson confirmed the Type 32s would be bought from the £16.5bn increase in funding for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) over the next four years.

Watch: Admiral Lord West says he thinks a drop in the number of frigates to below 13 would be "a disgrace".

Admiral Lord West went on: "The reality is that 12 months ago he (the Prime Minister) made these statements and not a single order has been placed since then."

Speaking to Forces News, Lord West said: "It's quite clear that the number of frigates that are going to be in the United Kingdom, in the Royal Navy, is probably going to drop down as low as nine and I think that's a disgrace.

"I think 13 frigates is a disgrace for a great maritime nation."

A new class of surface warship was described in the Defence Command Paper as "not just replacements for existing platforms, they will be more flexible than their predecessors".

The Type 26 vessels, dubbed the 'workhorses' of the warship fleet, are set to replace the dedicated submarine-hunting Type-23s.

They will also accompany British aircraft carriers when deployed as part of a Carrier Strike Group.