Warships of this size and complexity are ordered in batches. The Type 45 Destroyer was ordered in batches, why should the Type 26 Frigate be any different?

As we predicted before the announcement that the first batch of Type 26 Frigates were ordered, some groups have taken the batch build process to indicate a cut and it’s becoming comical.

Ordering in batches is common for projects of this size around the world and was last seen with the Royal Navy for the Type 45 Destroyers and recent Offshore Patrol Vessels.

The Type 45s first batch order was for three vessels just like Type 26 and steel is to be cut on the first ship in Glasgow in the coming weeks.

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.

“Backed by a rising defence budget and a £178bn Equipment Plan, the Type 26 programme will bring vast economic benefits to Scotland and the wider UK. The contract is structured to ensure value for taxpayers’ money and, importantly, now designed to protect them from extra bills from project overrun. The investment will secure hundreds of skilled jobs at BAE Systems on the Clyde for the next twenty years, and thousands of jobs in the supply chain across Britain.”

Commenting on this important announcement, Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive, BAE Systems said:

“The award of this contract is a strong endorsement of the talent and commitment of our employees across the UK and reinforces Glasgow as the centre of shipbuilding in the UK.  We are extremely proud to be chosen to design and manufacture vessels that will give the Royal Navy an essential, next generation capability and be a vital addition to its fleet.

“We will continue to invest in our technologies, productivity and people to help us deliver these ships to the highest standards. Today we have five River Class Offshore Patrol vessels at varying stages of construction for the Royal Navy across our shipyards in Glasgow and we look forward to starting manufacture on the first Type 26 ship in the coming weeks.”

The UK Government committed to eight advanced anti-submarine warfare ships in its 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). The Type 26 programme currently employs more than 1,200 people in the UK supply chain, with a number of contracts already in place for the manufacture of major equipment for the first three ships. In total, there are already 33 UK and international companies working in the supply chain to deliver the Type 26 ships – with further announcements to be made shortly.

Harriet Baldwin, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, told Parliament in a written statement on Tuesday this week:

“I am today laying a Departmental Minute to advise that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has received approval from Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) to recognise a new contingent liability associated with the Type 26 Global Combat Ship Manufacture Phase 1 Contract.

The Departmental Minute describes the contingent liability that the MOD will hold as a result of placing the Type 26 Global Combat Ship Manufacture Phase 1 Contract, which will provide for the manufacture and testing of the first batch of Type 26 Global Combat Ships. The maximum contingent liability against the MOD is unquantifiable and will remain until the latest Out of Service Date of the ships manufactured under the contract, in the second half of the 21st century.

It is usual to allow a period of 14 Sitting Days prior to accepting a contingent liability, to provide hon. Members an opportunity to raise any objections. I regret that on this occasion pressing commercial and industrial requirements to sign the contract within the next few days together with the dissolution of Parliament, have meant that it has not been possible to provide the full 14 Sitting Days prior to taking on the contingent liabilities. Any delay would have risked losing significant financial benefits for the taxpayer. The Secretary of State for Defence has decided to proceed with the agreement, following scrutiny by the Department’s Investment Approvals Committee which confirmed that the contract offered best value for money for the taxpayer, and subsequent approval by HM Treasury.

Within the contract the exposure of BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships to a number of specified claims and to Direct Losses is limited to £50 million, while in respect of Indirect Losses and, within certain prescribed categories, catastrophic risks the contractor is indemnified against claims in excess of £50 million. It is the view of the Department that the likelihood of any claim is extremely low.”

Michael Fallon said earlier in the year that cutting the first steel would help secure new investment and safeguard hundreds of skilled jobs until 2035.

An independent report into the National Shipbuilding Strategy by Sir John Parker has also recommended that the Type 31 Frigate build be spread across the UK, with blocks being constructed in yards in both Scotland and England.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy is intended to be a “radical, fundamental re-appraisal of how we undertake the shipbuilding enterprise in the UK, intending to place UK naval shipbuilding on a sustainable long term footing”.

Sir John Parker’s independent report designed to inform the strategy was released. The government say they will give Sir John’s work the full consideration that it deserves and will provide a full and detailed response in the spring 2017.

In November, after confirming that the Type 26 Frigate would be built on the Clyde, Michael Fallon also indicated that the Type 31 Frigate will be assembled there too.

Michael Fallon told BBC Radio Scotland:

“Nobody is shortchanging the Clyde. This is a huge moment for the Clyde; we’re confirming we’re going ahead with the steel cut next summer, earlier than expected. The first eight will be the Type 26 combat ships.

After that, the Clyde will be building a lighter frigate and we will end up with a fleet that is larger than the fleet at the moment.”

It’s understood that the build plan for the Type 31 Frigate will follow a similar pattern to that of the Queen Elizabeth carriers and early Type 45 Destroyers in that blocks will be built in yards around the UK and assembled on the Clyde.

Additionally, it was recently announced recently that work had started on the fourth of five new Offshore Patrol Vessels being built on the Clyde.

It is understood that the yards on the Clyde will now build 18 vessels of varying types, instead of the originally promised 13.


  1. Glad to see that these ships are, at last, to begin construction. Now we need to see that the Type 31 will be built concurrently, using yards around the country and put together at Rosyth to utilise the workforce and facilities built for constructing the QE class carriers.


  2. It is understood that yards on the Clyde will now build 18 rather than 13… is this referring to 8 type 26, 5 type 31, 3 MARS FSS and the 2 additional river batch 2 OPVs? Or could we optimistically hope that it is referring to an increase in type 31 to take escort vessels and major surface combatants into the 20s?

    • Good question. I just looked at the T45 page on Wikipedia. For HMS Daring (first of class for T45) it lists the milestones as follows…

      First steel cut: 28-Mar-2003
      Launched: 1-Feb-2006
      Commissioned: 23-Jul-2009

      If that’s in any way indicative of T26 progress then we’d be looking at launch of first T26 in about June 2020 and commissioned in about November 2023!

      Type 23 shows first in class laid down in Dec-1985, launched Jul-1987 & commissioned Jun-1990 so 4.5 years from lay-down to commission vs 6 years 4 months for first T45.

      The two probably give some sort of best/worst case bounds but hopefully faster than T45.

      • Jacky would turn in his grave

        HMS Dreadnaught launched 1 yr 1day after keel laid.
        Commissioned 15 months after keel laid.

        And she could steam in warm water. MoD procurement / Royal Navy is a joke.

        • especially whan lockheed have tested a vstol f22 raptor, wonder if it would be cheaper than an f 35b?

  3. Another fluff piece from ukdefencejournal. Why don’t you talk to your “sources” or even better grill the relevant Whitehall muppets and then do a piece on why the cost of these ships is so outrageous ? The taxpayer is being robbed blind by BAE yet there is rarely any serious media backlash strong enough to make the establishment uncomfortable.

    • its time a bit more flesh was put on the bone, any more details on the ships projected abilities, specs in the words of the football chant;its all gone quiet over there

  4. 3x type 26 for £3.7 billion. Is this right?surely £3.7 billion is for all 8 ships? Otherwise biggest fleecing of UK taxpayers ever…no wait a minute there is the £11 billion spent on voyager tankers and +£4billion spent on Nimrod before cancellation.
    what a mess
    Type 26 compared very badly vs FREMM frigates. Size and capabilities the same pretty much but FREMM is £600 million vs £1.2 billion each for type 26. Twice the price.

  5. A RN admiral let the cat out of the bag in 2014, when he stated that the T26 was going to cost £11bn. Previous to that the £4bn figure was being used.

    Other European countries are able to build top of the range asw/aaw warships for around £500m whilst the UK doubles that price.

    Look at the Danish Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate based on the absalon design built in 2012/13 cost around £325m compared to £1bn for a t45.

    To be honest I think we need to ditch surface warship building in the UK and purchase from foreign suppliers.

    Our service personnel and UK taxpayers deserve better than this.

    PS if a Corbyn led labour government gets into office then 3 t26 warships will probably be the grand total.

    • Apologies it was 2015 not 2014 and the name of the rear admiral was Alex Burton, the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff, (Ships).

    • Don’t you think that there’s a reason that the Absalons and Huitfeldt ships are cheap? It’s like saying that it’s ridiculous that a BMW M3 costs five times what a Nissan Micra costs.

      The Danish ships are built partially to mercantile standards, and are far slower than real warships. Additionally the weapons aren’t included in the price – the use of Stanflex means that the cost of most systems is seperate from the vessel cost. Additionally, there are serious shortcomings in what was actually fitted – the 127mm was abandoned as being too expensive, and the CIWS was originally a wooden dummy!

      Pay peanuts, get monkeys. Last time we tried to do a cheap and cheerful, mercantile build it was Ocean, and that’s been beset with problems.

  6. If this price is right and it doesn’t include ‘extras’ that will support the later builds, then I can see the usual news story in a few years time. Due to raising costs, the decision has been made to cut the numbers down to x. Right now it is looking like another type45 story, small initial build, making prices seem excessive and making the cuts much easier to justify further down the road.

    I suspect if we had made a firm order for all 8, then the price would have been lower, but you can’t blame BAe for not wanting to gamble on the price, considering they probably suspect the numbers will be cut also.

    • the u.k armed forces should be told quality or quantity. techno snobbery is whats done for the R.N. projects costs spiralling, means cancellations.

  7. This was the ambition back in 2010.

    “The Global Combat Ship (GCS), previously known as the Future Surface Combatant, is a multirole warship development programme undertaken in the UK.

    The programme will include development of new air defence, anti-submarine and general purpose ships to replace the Type 22 (Broadsword Class) and Type 23 (Duke Class) frigates currently in service with the Royal Navy.

    The frigates will meet the next generation anti-submarine warfare and land operation mission requirements of the Royal Navy, and also be available for export. The Royal Navy is expected to deploy 13 Type 26 frigates in total.

    Other countries interested in the Type 26 GCS programme include Turkey, Australia, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Brazil. Canada originally expressed interest in the programme, though withdrew its plans.

    Each frigate is expected to cost between £250m-£350m, much less than Type 45 Destroyers. Type 26 is expected to face tough competition from the Fregata multimission programme (FREMM multipurpose frigate), and US frigates.

    The Type 26 programme is considered similar to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme being developed for the US military by Lockheed Martin. The Type 26 class vessels are expected to remain operational until the 2060s.”

    In 2017 we have utterly failed to achieve that ambition.

  8. The U.K. chooses to ignore the possibility of achieving economies of scale. It designs and builds six or eight of a class of warship or submarine and then repeats the process. It is analogous to building a car factory to build 100 cars. Each time the U.K. Does this, it fantasizes about export potential that is never realized. Each time, the cost per unit of said warships is so high that it calls into question the effectivenss of the Ministry of Defence and the government. It’s not BAE Systems fault that the Ministry refuses to select a common hull and build it for thirty years as the Americans did with the various Arleigh Burke flights. Why not negotiate for 16 Type 26 frigates of two different spec levels? A considerable degree of commonality would be achieved. Considerable economies of scale would be achieved. Better still, allow competitive bidding for warship contracts but specify the requirements in a comprehensive scope of services document. In short, emulate private business practices. The U.K. pays heavily for the privilege of designing and building major warships domestically. The price for that may be leaving the nation with very poor defences for the money spent.

    • its time the rivers were’tooled up. the impressive braunschwieg corvette, of the german navy is not muchdifferent in size but brims with weaponry, and looks like a tasty little bugger.put rim 116 system, a gun(like thais have done with their khrabi version of the river a 70mm oto melara.put an antisub torpedo one one, and maybe you have the bed of a t31.

    • The simple answer is that idiots in power think that a big ship = expensive ship.

      They can’t see that by building two classes instead of one we’re going to get an inferior GP frigate at a greater overall cost.

  9. Further to above – the 16 type 26 frigate negotiation would, of course, be accompanied by an abandonment of the Type 31 program.

  10. All negative rubbish coming out of the same mouths every time and always proven wrong time and time again .. Foreigners build the same ships For 300 million don’t make me laugh you can’t build a half decent cruise ship for double … Some ppl just hate the fact we are now being developed into a ultra modern navy ..

    • are we? one f-35b, taking a year to build, costing more than double the price the u.k. got from the u.s for the 72 harriers,operating big lumping ships like albion with nothing more than a seaman with a big bag of conkers and a catapult to defend them shows the extent of the problem at the admiralty…. NO BRAIN CELLS! one idea i heard recently was the proposal to remove the structure of a bay class and fit a full deck as a direct replacement for ocean.fit and not ‘fit for’ ships weaponry, the rivers should have at least 1 40mm main gun a 30mm on the archers wouldn’t go amiss.with all the furore coming over the fisheries limits, we may have to use the archers in a more aggressive roll.

  11. @Nick

    Couldn’t agree more

    I believe the whole RN can be done on 8 hull forms as follows

    CVF x2
    T26 x13
    T31 x25
    All RFA and amphibious assault (Aegir hull based) x20
    SSN x10
    SSBN x4
    Antarctic (off shelf one off) 1
    In shore patrol (Safeboats Mk 6) x25

    We would also need some other small vessels and systems to make this work

    Atlas Arcims Milne Countermeasure suite
    Combat Boat CB90
    PAC Rhib 24

    With proper scheduling this can all be achieved by purchasing over 25 years at a cost of £3bn p.a. And I believe this is conservative costing.

    • It means we build 3 major ships each year and 12-16 small vessels. Not that great a deal really and we should evolve designs or insert them in at the right scheduling point which will mean that at some point the type of hull form will double from 8 to 16 as new classes come online and the old ones are retired. Shouldn’t be an issue as that is what everyone else does.

      Lastly no more expensive life extension programmes – run the asset into the ground and build new every time.

      New assets take up most challenging roles – old assets retired to fisheries and constabulary duties to see out their days.

      Smaller does not necessarily mean worse – they are all relatively big ships a 120m Type 31 is not small.

      • why are we watching the entire tomahawk fitted swiftsure class ssn’s rotting alongside in rosyth, and devonport they were still good enough to beused in the libya operation, so why not now?

    • do what the thai’s have done with their river derivative and put an oto melara main gun on the pointy end. and put the ‘fitted for, but not with 20mm gun on the archers, train them to operate in small squadrons, in an aggressive role assissting the border patrols and fishery protection roles.

  12. Problem is, doing it in batches simply let’s you cut numbers mid-programme.

    And now we’re definitely going to have two carriers how about we build those six missing Daring Class ships?

  13. I’m not going to suggest for 1 second that we are getting value for money on these Type 26 regardless of how badly we need them.

    However couldn’t part of the reason the cost of these vessels is so high is due to the comparatively high wages in this country (and the pension schemes) be the reason why BAE have to charge so much?

    Just a thought.

    I just hope we do at least get all 8 that are currently promised because at least that would be something.

  14. The £3.7 billion price tag for the three ships includes money already spent on long-lead items (1 MT30 is already delivered), ongoing development costs and some infrastructure work being paid for by the MoD at BAE’s two yards in Glasgow, and also includes support costs for the first 3 vessels. Still pricey but not as bad as made out. Also the prices for foreign ships are highly inaccurate. The Iver Hutfields cost way more than is generally realised. The cost of most of the weapons and sensors was not included.

    • Does that include things like the £180m(?) contract for the 5″ guns for the first three ships. If yes then I wonder how many of the other pre-orders that are included have similar attributes to the gun order because that order was not for three guns, it was for four (one for shore-based training) plus an initial stockpile of munitions as well. For instance, is the 1 MT30 already delivered even intended for one of the ships or is it intended for installation at for a shore-based training facility? If yes then that’s already quite a lot of one-off equipment costs (not to mention the design costs) that won’t factor into the order for subsequent ships.

      I’m basically agreeing with the message behind your post, i.e. dividing £3.7bn by 3 and thinking that is the unit cost for a T26 is probably an extremely flawed calculation.

  15. Julian

    I agree with your statement but need to get something off my chest.

    If the Govt doesn’t want people to misunderstand what it is actually paying for it can certainly be far more transparent in detailing the cost of the actual ships.

    It is absolute madness how much the MOD wastes and it just has to stop, being clearer on what costs what is a start. If this cost consists of Asset+Running costs+maintenance+depreciation over the assets life then £3.7bn is good value, if however it is £3.7bn for 3 ships it is not.

    Another problem is that the MOD has already announced the long lead time items contracts and costs and these shouldn’t be included in another announcement.

    But hey, at least we have a rising defence budget of £178bn and strong and stable leadership – so nothing to worry about.

    • You are absolutely correct Pacman. The government and the MOD could be way more open and transparent about costs. It is often very hard to figure out how much we pay and for what. As far as I know the four 5 inch guns and stockpile of ammo for them is not included in the £3.7 billion and was in fact part of a different contract. However the integration costs (software & testing) are included as is Support cost for the combat management systems.

      The announcement also makes it sound like we will pay £3.7 billion from this point on which is not the case. Big chunks of it have already been paid to various contractors around the UK and abroad (Canada). At least 13 different orders for equipment worth over £500 million have already been placed some as early as 2015.

      Lack of clarity like this is what sometimes makes people think foreign ships seem much cheaper but are they really? Do the French or Italians include costs like these In figures for their ships? I don’t know, which makes comparison difficult. I do know the US navy distorts the cost of its ships massively. Have a look in to the Ford programme and deferred costs.

    • No argument here. Very well said Pacman27. I absolutely agree. It’s infuriating that we’re all having to guess and are filling in the blanks in sometimes different ways when the accurate info should be available. it’s not a matter of national security, we (or at least I) am not expecting details of all the secret widgets on board, just a clear explanation of one-off vs design vs unit build cost vs static infrastructure costs.

    • having a proper look at the new raptor f 22 jump jet might be worthwhile especially cost wise against the f35

  16. All, As I am a fairly simple person I will give a go at a breakdown cost of what I think one of these should come out at. – please be gentle I may be wrong, but the key point is that it is relatively easy to be transparent without giving the game away.

    1. T26 Hull form. – £150m. (assumption of £1m per m – Tide class much cheaper + bigger)
    2. Hull Form fit out and mechanicals – £100m
    3. Mk41 8 Cell VLS (4) – £40m (£10m each including 8 Tomahawks).
    4. CAMM 8 cell VLS (6) – £60m (in reality zero as coming from T23)
    5. VLS Fire control system (1) – £50m (guesstimate)
    6. Artisan Radar (1) – £20m (conservative probably a lot less)
    7. S1850m Radar (1) – £10m (as above)
    8. Navigation and other radars (4-6) (£10m)
    9. 5″ Gun autoloader and magazine (1)- £30m (fully working with missiles and fire control system)
    10. Electronic Warfare system (1) £50m
    11. Wildcat Helicopter (X2) £60m. (Can reduce to 1)
    12. Captas C4 ASW suite – £20m
    13. Torpedoes – £10m
    14. Harpoon – £20m
    15. Other – £50m
    16. Contingency – £50m

    Total comes to £730m and I know this is a bit simplistic – but actually things are often more simple than “management and consultants” will have you believe.

    1. There is a ship of a certain size and design.
    2. It needs mechanical elements and systems to sail.
    3. It needs weapons to fight.
    4. It needs combat systems to control the fight.
    5. It needs communication systems to do all the above effectively.

    Clearly the above does not take into account weapons stockpiles, maintenance or resourcing, but nor should the £178bn equipment budget. Maintenance is not equipment and whilst it is a critical cost it is an operating cost, not a capital cost.

    What is important here is getting the basics right and it is the mix of the component parts and how they interact with each other that is critical and historically the RN have been very good at making ends meet.

    I think the above gives a flavour to the cost base and although I am happy to be corrected on most / all my assumptions, why does it need to be any more complicated than the above.

    • An article on UKDJ states all 19 artisan cost £106m – so my costing of £20m per unit is clearly excessive (as I believe most of my estimates are).

      I really do think that we should be building 15 major ships every 5 year (3 subs – 12 surface) to give us a 75 ship fleet (more or less what we have now) and if we actually committed to this then surely the cost of most of these items would dramatically reduce.

      We also need to rationalise hull types dramatically (see above) but the cost per ship being quoted is just ridiculous and answers a question about why the £178bn never seems to actually make a difference.

    • i suggested a replacement for ocean built from the removal of the superstructure of a bay class and replacing it with a full deck, cheaper, faster, than a new design and long time build.the specs of both, other than crew size, are quite similar.


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