The Type 26 ‘City class’ frigate represents the future backbone of the Royal Navy and eight of the class are planned, starting with HMS Glasgow.
Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord said:
“The Clyde was the birthplace of some of the greatest fighting ships the world has ever known and so cutting steel there today for the future HMS Glasgow is symbolic of a Royal Navy on the rise once again.
As an island nation, we are utterly dependent on the sea for our security and prosperity and the City-class names have been chosen for the Type 26 to provide an enduring link between the Royal Navy and our great centres of commerce and industry.
The name Glasgow brings with it a string of battle honours, stretching from the Arctic Circle to the South Atlantic.”
It will be the ninth HMS Glasgow in the Royal Navy’s history, dating back to 1707.
Sir Michael told the workforce at the steel-cutting ceremony:
“Today marks a historic milestone for the Royal Navy, Scottish shipbuilding and UK defence more widely. HMS Glasgow and the other seven frigates in this class will protect our new aircraft carriers and nuclear deterrent, helping keep Britain safe across the world.”
The Type 26 Frigate programme has been underway since 1998, initially under the name ‘Future Surface Combatant’. The programme was brought forward in the 2008 budget at the expense of Type 45 destroyers 7 and 8.
Steel was cut on the 20th of July 2017 for the first in class, HMS Glasgow as part of the £3.7bn order of the first three vessels in the class. Warships of this size and complexity are ordered in batches and this approach was last seen with the Royal Navy for the Type 45 Destroyers and recent Offshore Patrol Vessels.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
“The Type 26 Frigate is a cutting-edge warship, combining the expertise of the British shipbuilding industry with the excellence of the Royal Navy. We will cut steel on the first ship later this month – a hugely significant milestone that delivers on our commitment to maintain our global naval power.
These ships will be a force to be reckoned with, there to protect our powerful new carriers and helping keep British interests safe across the world.”
The vessel is believed to be 149.9m long with a beam of 20.8m, a top speed of more than 26 knots and accommodation for up to 200 people. The class is expected to have 60 days endurance and have a range of 7,000 nautical miles.
The propulsion system of the RN ships will have a gas turbine and four high speed diesel generators driving two electric motors in a ‘CODLOG’ arrangement, ‘CODLOG’ simply stands for Combined diesel-electric or gas.
In 2012 Rolls Royce redesigned the well known MT30 used in the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers t enable its usage in smaller ships, such as Type 26. It is now known that the vessels will use the MT30. We learned at a RINA presentation, BAE believe that some potential customers would prefer to lose a few knots by opting to use cheaper engines. No foreign customers are forthcoming yet however.
It’s no secret that the Type 26 is designed with modularity and flexibility in mind, the latest BAE design has a large amidships mission bay instead of the stern well deck featured in previous designs. BAE have commented regarding the mission bay:
“A key feature is the ship’s flexible mission space, which can accommodate up to four 12 metre sea boats, a range of manned and unmanned air, surface or underwater vehicles or up to 11 20ft containers or ‘capability modules’, and the most advanced sensors available to the fleet.”
The relocation of the bay amidships from stern could possibly mean a decrease in the volume of space available to the equipment carried but the new design would seem to have space enough for a few large boats or other large-scale systems and material.
An interesting bit of information I learned at the aforementioned presentation was that they’re planning the Type 26 to comfortably be able to deploy SDV’s (swimmer delivery vehicles) for the deployment of special forces, this would make sense given that they have also upped the accommodation facilities on the ship to take around 200 people.
The Type 26 will use the Type 997 Artisan 3D search radar, Sonar 2087 (towed array sonar) and Sea Ceptor (CAMM, common anti-air modular missile) air-defence missiles launched via a vertical launching system (VLS). The ship is expected to be armed with BAE’s 5″/54 calibre Mark 45 gun, two Phalanx close in weapons systems, two 30mm DS30M Mark 2’s and the standard complement of miniguns and general-purpose machine guns.
The Type 26 will have Sea Ceptor silo’s on the bow and near the funnel of the vessel. Additionally, it will carry a 24-cell strike-length MK 41 VLS positioned behind the Sea Ceptor silo on the bow which will house a yet to be developed anti-ship missile.
Typically, the Merlin HM2 will normally be carried by the Type 26 although mission requirements may see it hosting the naval Wildcat helicopter or a Chinook, it must however be noted that the Chinook would not fit in the hangar but it would fit on deck.
It stands to reason that crewing requirements will also be determined by the various unmanned systems that the ship will one day be expected to operate.
Assuming the Royal Navy’s unmanned air systems will fly intelligence missions from the Type 26, decisions would have to be made on whether processing of the information will occur onboard or on land.
According to ‘Naval Drones International’
“A final design consideration will be the proper mix of manned to unmanned vehicles each frigate will embark. In the case of LCS’ aviation systems, a ratio of three Fire Scouts to one manned helo was chosen to allow for 24 hour air coverage based on approximately seven hours of endurance for Fire Scout and three hours of endurance for the MH-60.
The manned/unmanned ratio must also take into account factors such as the payloads and sensors required for each mission set, and the need for a man on the scene in certain operations such as search and rescue.
Because the Type 26 has excess design capacity and flexibility, these operational decisions can be made prior to each deployment.”
BAE further expanded upon this:
“Versatility of roles is enabled by the Integrated Mission Bay and Hanger, capable of supporting multiple helicopters, UUVs, boats, mission loads and disaster relief stores. A launcher can be provided for fixed wing UAV operation and the Flight Deck is capable of landing a Chinook helicopter for transport of embarked forces.”
The frigates will certainly meet and even exceed the next generation mission requirements of the Royal Navy and also be available for export, though sadly no country has yet expressed any significant interest in ordering the vessel.
The Type 26 City class frigate will be a flexible frigate with a wide array of cutting edge sensors and weapons, let’s just hope we get the full 8 of them.