The Royal Navy fleet will grow to more than 19 frigates and destroyers by 2026, aiming for 24 escort vessels by 2030. It currently has 18.

In written evidence submitted by Admiral Tony Radakin to the Defence Select Commitee the former First Sea Lord said:

“Hull numbers will dip to 17 by the end of 2023”, later adding “alongside making best use of the force we have, driving up relative availability, we remain committed to growing the escort force and further increasing the absolute number of days available for operations we provide to the nation. We anticipate returning above 19 FFDD by the end of 2026 as new ships are brought into service.

The projected in service dates for these ships, and the time required for sea trials and commissioning activity, have been modelled against the out of service dates of the Type 23 force, to ensure that we always have sufficient units to deliver on our Defence Plan commitments, whether that be protecting our nuclear deterrent or delivering presence around the globe.

Furthermore, the additional availability that the IR provided in the OPV force, through the extension of the Batch 1 OPVs in Home Waters, has allowed us to use the Batch 2 OPVs to deliver some tasks overseas to which a Frigate or Destroyer would have been attributed previously. The excellent availability we are getting from these new ships, forward deployed with a sustainable crewing model, is supporting our presence around the globe whilst we transition to the future frigate force.

As new ships are brought into service, they will require less maintenance than those they replace, reaping the benefits of modern technology and further improving relative availability. We are also committed to several initiatives, under Projects RESOLUTION (Submarines) and RENOWN (Surface Ships), to shorten refits and speed up routine maintenance of the existing fleet. The collective effect of all these measures will be a much more available Fleet, delivering a better return on the investment the Ministry of Defence has made in the Royal Navy, and providing more days on operations for the nation.”

How many escorts will the Royal Navy eventually have?

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister confirmed plans to increase the size of the Royal Navy escort fleet to 24 vessels.

Royal Navy to have 24 frigates and destroyers by 2030

During a dicussion following a statement on the publication of the ‘Integrated Review of security, defence, development and foreign policy‘, Boris Johnson said:

“In shipbuilding, we will have by the end of this decade 24 frigates as opposed to the 15 today.”

The Royal Navy currently has 12 frigates, it’s safe to assume that the Prime Minister misspoke. Johnson also meant escort vessels rather than just frigates, which would mean an increase of 5 vessels on today’s numbers of 12 frigates and 6 destroyers.

The Integrated Review confirmed plans for new Type 32 Frigates which will be built in addition to the Type 26 and Type 31 Frigates, many had previously suspected that this is part of an effort to bring the escort fleet up to 24 vessels from its current 19.

For more on Type 32, click here or follow the link below.

More details emerge about the Type 32 Frigate

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Jon
Jon
6 days ago

Am told by MoD press office that the 24 by end of the decade was actually a reference to surface fleet numbers

Albion and Bulwark have OOS dates after 2030. Don’t they count as surface fleet? Don’t the carriers?

Radakin said:

We anticipate returning above 19 FFDD by the end of 2026

So in the last 3 years of the decade do we expect 5 more frigates to come into service than leave? I think that’s just about possible, but “surface fleet” leaves wiggle room.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
6 days ago
Reply to  Jon

I think the correction from the PM was as confused as the original statement it ‘corrected’. No change there then, tbh I doubt he would know the difference between a River Class and a George Bush class carrier unless Tobias Elwood informed him in triplicate. Even then he would be asking how many of the latter we have in the RN.

Lusty
Lusty
6 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

When he was in Portsmouth, he confused a Type 23 with a Type 26. I mean, the latter isn’t even afloat yet!

Last edited 6 days ago by Lusty
JOHNT
JOHNT
6 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

I’m sure the Type 32 project exists due to a typo they won’t admit to.

Ian
Ian
4 days ago
Reply to  JOHNT

JOHNT…. I have always thought that..Boris does speak without checking sometimes
Ian

Steve R
Steve R
6 days ago
Reply to  Jon

What are we meant to be replacing Albion and Bulwark with?

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

A larger number of smaller multi-role support ships I believe

John Stevens
John Stevens
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

I would of thought a class of 5 or 6 new LRG ships will be needed in the future. Two ships available for each of the LRG at anytime. Perhaps a lighter in tonnage design compared to the current LPD’S.

Knight7572
Knight7572
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Landing Helicopter Docks are the favourites atm

Jon
Jon
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

I don’t think there’s to be a like-for-like replacement. I think we are giving up all land assault capability.

Graham
Graham
23 hours ago
Reply to  Jon

Isn’t that the key role for 3 Cdo Bde?

Steve
Steve
6 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Probably some creative accounting going on. No way we are going to get 5 more active frigates within 5 years. I would guess they will include ones being taken out of service and ones in testing phase etc.

Paul42
Paul42
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve

I suspect that what this actually means is that a number of the Type 23s will be extended in service, giving us a larger number of ships as new vessels join and sail alongside those they were intended to replace…..

David Barry
David Barry
6 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

And the crews will come from where? And cost how much?

Steve R
Steve R
6 days ago
Reply to  David Barry

The cost has most likely been factored into that, and given that it’s 24 by the end of the decade that gives us 8 years to recruit more people into the Royal Navy.

Steve
Steve
6 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

My guess it will be a specific point in time. There will be a day where a t23 and t26 will be in service together and then the next day the t23 will be taken out of service. Doesn’t require any crew as no one said it was the active number.

Meirion x
Meirion x
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Most likely yes, e.g. HMS Glasgow will still be in trails in 2026, at the same time as HMS Westminster will still be in service.

David Barry
David Barry
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Well, we’ve lost one and another is so knackered we were going to gift it to Greece, so where does 18 come from?

Jon
Jon
6 days ago
Reply to  David Barry

Radakin also said

FFDD hull numbers will dip to 17 by the end of 2023

So that will be Montrose and Monmouth going.

I think Argyll, Iron Duke and Lancaster will be Lifexed beyond 2026.

It may be commissioned dates not operational. So we’ll have HMS Glasgow and two T31s, Venturer and Active, commissioned by the end of 2026. But it’s possible that all three will be operational by then.

Last edited 6 days ago by Jon
Meirion x
Meirion x
6 days ago
Reply to  Jon

HMS Glasgow will only be operational at this time only in the sense of developmental trials, as the first in her class of this type of warship.
And will undergo advance trials of how this warship’s warfare proceeders
are conducted.

Sean
Sean
5 days ago
Reply to  Steve

You think the Radakin, former First Sea Lord is lying then… 🤦‍♂️

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
6 days ago

24 by 2030 seems…ambitious, given the glacial pace of construction

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
6 days ago

Hi Levi,

I though that as well.

However, two things are in the pipline that might make a difference. Firstly, the B2 T26 contract is still being negotiated and secondly BAE Systems have put in a planning application to extend the build hall at the yard. In optimistic moments I wonder if the two are linked and that the rate of build for the B2’s will be accelerated?

Fingers crossed.

Cheers CR

Steve
Steve
6 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Simple question is where has the new money come from? If they were planning on speeding things up there would have been indications of this in the SDSR, which instead focused on cuts and lots of them.

No idea what the extension relates to, but I doubt it’s another frigate factory

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Hi Steve, Don’t know if you saw this story or not, but BAE Systems have put in a planning application to extend the Block Fitting Hall Out. So this is definately an increase in capacity at the yard, even if only a small one… As for the SDSR yes lots of cuts but also an up lift in the size of the RN, hence the talk of 24 FFDD’s by (mid?) 2030’s which they can only achieve with an up tick in decision / build rate as far as I can see. Of course, there is still plenty of opportunity… Read more »

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
6 days ago

I guess if they speed up T26 construction they could have three in commision potentially by 2026-also if they place the order for the rest this year

Meirion x
Meirion x
6 days ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Three in commision by 2030, very likely! Very little capacity to speed-up much, either in facilities or in skilled workforce. You forgetting, the long lead items need to be ordered at least two years before construction begins on the actual ship. Some of the long lead items for the first three T26’s, were ordered in 2015.

Last edited 6 days ago by Meirion x
Geoffi
Geoffi
6 days ago

Always jam tomorrow with the RN……

WW3 will be long over by 2030, possibly also 2026.

geoff
geoff
6 days ago
Reply to  Geoffi

Hello Geoffi. We may be short of frigates and destroyers but we have at present, a plethora(Three Amigos) of great articles courtesy of UKDJ and George!😄

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago
Reply to  Geoffi

A limited war in the Asia Pacific maybe, but a world war a unlikely, simply because the nuclear powers are all going to make sure a conflict is as limited as possible.

Mutual destruction by nuclear fire, poisoning, starvation and freezing has worked as a motivator for non escalation for 70 years, it’s likely to keep working.

David Barry
David Barry
6 days ago

Heavens above, can someone give him an abacus? He’s stupid? Inept? Or just a bare faced liar? 30 by the end of 2020s, 30 of what?

Tams
Tams
6 days ago
Reply to  David Barry

Children.

GlynH
GlynH
6 days ago

The tragic irony is that the Type 31s are not escorts. What can they do, shoot at small gun boats and launch (if we are lucky) 24 CAMMs, holly hell what a joke. At least the Type 45 can attest to being a decent wide area AAW ship and similarly the Type 26 can take care of ASW. But the Type 31s ???

Steve
Steve
6 days ago
Reply to  GlynH

Being a bit more positive, it depends what they are escorting. If they are escorting the supply ships out of range of land based attacks, but still potentially in range of air-to-air refuels (limited number of attacks), then they could be effective. Main problem is they will have limited sub surface capability and really supply escorts need that. They will also be fine at escorting merchant navies around piracy hotspots / low intensity areas like the current status of the gulf and the types of attacks Iran is doing.

JOHNT
JOHNT
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve

The 57mm and 2 40mm would be more effective at taking out a swarm of small boats than the 4.5/5inch/ 2 30mm combination of the Types 23/26 and 45 without having to resort to using expensive anti-ship missiles on them.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago
Reply to  GlynH

To be honest for what it’s going to be doing the type 31 is going to be a good ship. 1) keeping shipping lanes open in enclosed seas open. Those 2 40mms and the 57mm are going to be very effective at that. As well a CAMM, a Mach three missile hitting any small or medium combatant is going to be effective and hard to stop ( the kinetic energy in a 100kg object at Mach 3 is a lot). 2) Acting as a very effective constabulary vessel, merlin size rotor, two ribs and space for marines. 3) mission bays… Read more »

GlynH
GlynH
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

One can’t help but think of the OHPerrys, small, neat & tidy. Obsolete by today’s standards but at the time with, SM-1, RGM-84, 76mm, a CIWS and Torps. Everything you want in a “2nd rate” vessel. Like the Destroyer Escorts of WW2, cheap and cheerful. Sadly the Type 31 lacks half of what the OHPerrys could do, 20 years later.

Robert Billington
Robert Billington
6 days ago

You have Canada and Australia building type 26s, you have the RN building them, you have AUKUS, you have an increase in British escorts with the 31s and 32s and the type 45s, the OPVs. The two LRGs to boot. This stuff takes time. It’s not like the cupboard is bare. We have Italian jets on our flat tops, the Japanese in there with us too. We have the JEF, NATO, five power agreement. I’d say that’s a considerable force to muster against anyone. With the way that CANZUK is getting advertised, we must expect a further integration of HM… Read more »

Tams
Tams
6 days ago

To at least deploy a full CSG independently (even though allies will almost certainly always join us) while not abandoning our responsibilities and interests elsewhere.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
6 days ago

At last! Someone talking positive.

Don’t let that man leave!

Bravo. Agreed.

Robert Billington
Robert Billington
6 days ago

Exactly! Why all the humbug from some others lol

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago

I’m pretty sure some people feel we should never have moved away from the two powers rule.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
6 days ago

A mix of Trolls trying to put the nation down and the good old British moaning.

They’re not wrong on numbers, but it’s not changing soon so why winge. I try to see the positives top.

Robert Billington
Robert Billington
6 days ago

Hear hear, we also have ships greater than anything we’ve seen in the last what, 50 years?! Even the original cva001 etc was smaller than the present flat tops. Add type 83s in eventually, I mean who is doing that in Europe? We are still by far in the premier league.

eclipse
eclipse
6 days ago

I agree with you as well. Comparing ourselves with the US is ridiculous; they have completely different budgets, industries etc. But if we compare ourselves with anyone else, we are indeed doing very well. 24 escorts is almost double what the next largest fleet in Europe will have (France with 15) and our carriers have more capability than all the Europeans combined. And then the RFA… which is also larger by displacement than every European auxiliary combined. In fact, it’s still ahead of China.

Frank62
Frank62
35 minutes ago

“ships greater than anything we’ve seen in the last what, 50 years?” The T31s have little ASW capability & very limited SAM capability that can be soon exhausted, none of our escorts have up to date AShMs. We keep inflicting basic capability gaps none of our adversaries would ever allow. Our weaknesses & failures do not make the world safer.

Frank62
Frank62
43 minutes ago

We’re on the brink of major conflict in the far east & Baltics/Ukraine, at virtual war online/infrastrucure yet we’re stupidly weak & remaining so for many years to come. That’s why I think it’s very apt to decry the deplorable state of our armed forces.

Ron
Ron
5 days ago

Totally agree, in many ways we as a nation do punch above our size. I wish we could have a fleet the size of the Grand Fleet, but thats wishful thinking. Realistically a surface action fleet of 24 is a minimum needed, 30 FFGs/DDGs would be better for the diffrent tasks the RN need to carry out. I do think we need a few more subs, possibly we should think about AIP for subs that are to operate closer to home and in the Med leaving the nucs to go roaming. My major concern is Amphibious capability, and yes I… Read more »

Rob
Rob
6 days ago

So they are saying that at least 1 T31 will be built, tested and operational in 4 and half / 5 years time. I find that very hard to believe. A new class of frigate will need at least a year to work up for starters. Another example of over optimism I’m afraid.

Jon
Jon
6 days ago
Reply to  Rob

The official in-service date was supposed to be in 2027, but that was before the recent shake up. According to an article George wrote Feb 2020: “The Ministry of Defence also reportedly told the Commons Library “the competition we held demonstrated that no bidder could achieve a ship in the water before 2023” but suggested to the author that the in-service date could be earlier than 2027.” Here’s the kind of schedule they could aim for Steel cut: Sept ’21 Floated off: June ’23 Fitted out: June ’24 Delivered: March ’25 Commissioned: Oct ’25 Operational End ’26. I don’t think… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
6 days ago

There is one axiom: accept the numbers when their built. Up until then no government forecast is worth the breath-lessness it’s delivered with.
“HS2, Brutus?”
Well, two axioms. The ultimate UK escort numbers will be dictated by the Chinese & Russians. Hopefully more if we have time. Possibly less if we don’t.

Tams
Tams
6 days ago

Ideally we’d just have more Type 26s on order. I do get operating two types of frigates though, and the Type 31s will be better suited to some (solo mainly) roles.

But three types? Seems to be overcomplicating things and asking for trouble.

And we really should have had eight Type 45s (and another Astute). Almost criminal that we don’t.

Andrew D
Andrew D
6 days ago

24 it’s still not great guy’s 🤔

David Steeper
6 days ago

Where will he get the crews ? Where will he get the money ? Both will come from the good work he did when FSL and why Johnson wanted him and the MoD didn’t.

Klonkie
Klonkie
6 days ago

I’m not concerned about the weapon limitations on the type31. Plenty of capacity to increases sensor and weapons systems in the future, as and when funding permits. The key thing is to get them built and commissioned.

24 surface warships ( frigate/destroyer) is about half of the RN in 1990. The peace dividend narrative predicted force levels of circa 50% , so I’m comfortable with this. My concern is that once this level is reached, the Batch 1 Rivers will be retired without replacement , adding pressure on the fleet

Robert Billington
Robert Billington
6 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

True but these modern ships are exactly that, more modern and twice the size in most cases.

Klonkie
Klonkie
6 days ago

That’s exactly my point Robert. It is financially challenging to fund those 50% for levels. So on balance, this is not a bad situation to be in

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

I would imaging so as the Batch2s being forward based seams to be a solution to the present reduction in escort numbers and not permanent. So the B2s would be replaced on station by T31 and come home to cover the home waters constabulary duties ( which is more what they are designed for), the south Atlantic B2 would stay.

Klonkie
Klonkie
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Agreed Jonathan- that makes sense

RobW
RobW
5 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

The former first sea lord, now head of the armed forces, stated at a recent Defence Select Committee that mk41 silos for the T31 are being actively considered. All is not lost!

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago

So 24 escorts by 2030 ?

Thats
6 T45
8 T23/26
5 T31
5 T32

Very big ask. So will the in service dates of the 31s be moved forward to 2026 ? I suppose if the ship builderS and RN could then bring into service 2 per year that gets you close. The 32s would need to be a very much a T31 Batch 2 I would imagine.

Jon
Jon
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I imagine it would mean a further increase in the life of the T23s. If Westminster and Northumberland could sustain a few more years there’d be 8xT23 and 3xT26s, as well as 5 T31s. That’s 22 escorts.

If you could count a Type 32 and a Type 26 delivered, but not yet commissioned, you reach 24. Even that would require a speed increase in Type 26 building.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
5 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

If the T31/32s prove to be quick and cost-efficient to manufacture and operate why not an extra 1 of each to bolster fleet numbers and availability?

PRJ
PRJ
5 days ago

Unless the Bacchante Class (T31) are adequately equipped for ASuW and ASW they will be floating death traps. I am gobsmacked as to how a once ruler of the waves can neglect such basic capabilities. The RN leadership have lost the plot, and against any peer the RN surface fleet wouldn’t last till tea time. The RN needs to take a leaf from the RAF and look to control the seas through possessing the capabilities to do so. As the DS Committee said the current surface fleet are nothing but hedgehogs. Sorry to be critical, but failure here costs lives… Read more »

PRJ
PRJ
5 days ago

Of course – the navy we have today is the navy we’d go to war with. So FFBNW policy is a disaster waiting to happen, and I’m surprised that Wallace, Quinn and 1SL haven’t grasped this basic lesson from history. Where is the red teaming, where is the challenge to group thinking?

Frank62
Frank62
22 minutes ago
Reply to  PRJ

I agree PRJ, criminal negligence I say. The free world is under serious existential threat from Russia & China but we are told to be happy we’ve got the tiniest fleet for centuries & shambolic plans to increase the fleet at glacial pace.

Tufton Bufton
Tufton Bufton
2 days ago

Cameron’s defence cuts in 2010 left a gap in the RN that has taken over a decade to repair. Britain imports 50% of its diet, and most of its raw materials. The sheer irresponsibility of allowing the number of convoy escorts to drop to as little as 13 shows a total abdication from risk management. We are fortunate that Admiral Radakin and others like him stayed the course through the dark days, and are now putting things to rights.

Graham
Graham
23 hours ago
Reply to  Tufton Bufton

Why do we need to escort convoys of merchantmen? Has WW3 started?

Frank62
Frank62
54 minutes ago

This appalling RN escort nadir is a green light to all our foes to try it on before we finally get our finger out. Thankfully Chinas neighbours in the far east haven’t caught this abysmal ideology of running force numbers into the ground.