Sea vessels

Watch: Take a virtual tour of the future Type 26 submarine hunter

Concept design footage used by shipbuilder BAE Systems has given crews a fresh look at the incoming ships.

Visualisation technology used to design the new Type 26 ships before cutting steel has given Forces News the chance to explore the City-Class frigate.

Replacing the current Type 23s after about 30 years, the Global Combat Ships will be larger, better armed and more advanced than the Navy's current model.

An integrated mission bay and hangar embodies the multi-role capability of the submarine hunter – which will be prepared for counter-piracy and disaster relief missions.

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The reconfigurable, modular mission bay at the centre of the ship is able to carry multiple boats and autonomous vehicles – there’s also space for 10 20ft ISO containers.

It also is capable of being loaded without help from ashore.

The main hangar can hold one Merlin or two Wildcat helicopters, while the flight deck, much larger than the Type 23's, can hold heavy-lift helicopters like the Chinook.

The current frigate can only fit a Lynx or a Merlin-sized aircraft.

Watch: Prince William cuts first steel for Type 26 HMS Belfast.

Overall size is a noticeable factor when comparing the Type 23 with the Type 26.

Current Duke-class vessels are about 133 metres long and weigh 4,900 tonnes.

The Type 26 will be 2,000 tonnes heavier, closer in length to a destroyer at 149 metres and five metres wider than its predecessor (beam 20.8 metres).

New frigates will host a crew of 157, with accommodation space for 208, including embarked forces.

Two electric motors, four high-speed diesel generators and one gas turbine allow for quiet sailing.

The ships' towing sonars below will be used to detect torpedoes and other threats.

As for weapon updates, BAE Systems will use their MK 45 Mod 4 system as the five-inch gun out in front.

The 62-calibre weapon can fire accurately up to 20 nautical miles from targets.

Behind it, the Sea Ceptor anti-air missile system will be fitted, having already been seen aboard some Type 23s.

Watch: UK Carrier Strike Group begins journey home after four-month Indo-Pacific mission.

Higher up, an Artisan 997 Medium Range Radar will defend against jammers and, according to BAE Sytems, can detect tennis ball-sized objects moving at three times the speed of sound, more than 25km away.

It's the same radar used on UK aircraft carriers.

At the heart of each operation will be the operations control suite, fitted with open architecture software to keep eyes on all of the systems associated with the ship and its mission.

All of the systems in the room will be upgradeable as technology evolves over time.

The tasks themselves will be crucial to UK defence – Type 26s are expected to protect the UK's Carrier Strike Group and nuclear deterrent from threats beneath the surface.

They are expected to be ready for delivery by the mid-2020s.