Sea vessels

Type 26 Frigates: Navy's City-Class Explained

A total of eight vessels will be built as part of the Type 26 programme and will be delivered to the Royal Navy from the mid-2020s.

Set for delivery in the coming decade, the Royal Navy's Type 26 frigates are already being dubbed the workhorses of the warship fleet.

On 18 April, the bow of HMS Glasgow, the Royal Navy's first Type 26, otherwise known as the 'City-class', rolled out into the open air for the first time.

The forward section of the vessel emerged from the BAE Systems Clyde shipyard and contains the ship's bridge, operations room and accommodation spaces.

Replacing the dedicated submarine-hunting Type 23 frigates, the Type 26s will accompany British aircraft carriers as part of a Carrier Strike Group and deliver critical protection of the Navy's Continuous At Sea Deterrent.

The Type 26 vessels will uphold the three key naval functions within the service – maritime security, international engagement and warfighting.

Alongside the UK's pending Type 31 frigates, they will help make up the future generation of the Royal Navy.

What is the Type 26?

A total of eight ships will be built on the Clyde as part of the Type 26 programme and will start being delivered to the Royal Navy from the mid-2020s.

The 6,900-tonne frigates will have a top speed of 26+ knots and a total range of 7,000 nautical miles each.

The forward section of HMS Glasgow emerged from the BAE Systems Clyde shipyard for the first time last week (Picture: BAE Systems).

The vessels will also be equipped with a Sea Ceptor anti-air defence missile system, a five-inch medium-calibre gun, Artisan 997 Medium Range Radar and towed array sonars.

Each Type 26 frigate will also have a flight deck capable of handling aircraft up to the size of a Chinook helicopter and a flexible mission bay capable of housing and deploying vessels, vehicles and containers.

All of the Type 26s will be based at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth, with the first three vessels being manufactured by BAE Systems as part of a £3.7bn contract.

The names of all eight Type 26s have been revealed as the following:

In November 2020, BAE Systems was awarded a contract by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) worth £3.7bn to construct the first three ships.

Type 26 frigate CGI
Each vessel will cost £250m to produce (Picture: MOD).

While HMS Glasgow has moved out into the open air for the first time, work continues on HMS Cardiff, the second in class, with the construction of HMS Belfast set to start later in the year.

The Type 26s are expected to continue in service beyond the middle of the 21st century, and are expected to feature in counter-piracy and disaster relief operations.

One of their roles will be to provide advanced protection for the UK's nuclear deterrent and Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, as well as offering an anti-submarine warfare capability.

The plan is for them to form the future of the Royal Navy with the Type 31 frigate, which will be built by defence firm Babcock.

The Type 26 is the original variant of the BAE Systems' Global Combat Ship, which supports a close partnership between the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.

Australia and Canada selected versions of the Type 26 design for their own anti-submarine frigate programmes.

In October last year, it was announced the UK and Australia would work together to build and deliver the Type 26 frigate programme.

Both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the project, as well as working together on the Royal Australian Navy's Hunter class frigate programme. 

Cover image: BAE Systems.