Two of the oldest Type 23 Frigates are to be retired earlier than previous planned in order to fund other projects.

The Defence Command Paper released today, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age‘, states:

“The Royal Navy will focus investment on improving the sustainability, lethality and availability of the fleet and delivering a more modern, high tech and automated Navy. To enable this, the Royal Navy will retire legacy capabilities including two of our oldest T23 frigates.

We will bring Type 31 and Type 32 frigates into service, these new vessels are not just replacements for existing platforms, they will be more flexible than their predecessors. Equipped with advanced sensors and weapons, they will embrace modularisation to allow them to quickly adopt emerging technology throughout their life and to switch role depending on the nature of the threat.

The lethality of the surface fleet will be increased by upgrading the air defence capability in our Type 45 destroyers, replacing our Harpoon ship to ship missiles, and launching the UK design cutting edge Type 26 Anti Submarine Warfare frigates alongside Canada and Australia.”

The Sun had previously reported speculation that the UK will retire two of it’s thirteen Type 23 Frigates as part of the Integrated Review. This has, obviously, now been confirmed.

An excerpt from this article states.

“The Navy will lose two specialist sub-hunting frigates, HMS Montrose and HMS Monmouth, as well as its 13 strong fleet of minehunters which are due to be replaced by drones.”

You can read more by visiting the original source here.

You can also read more about Type 23 by visting the link below.

A guide to the Type 23 Frigate

This defence review was previously described by Boris Johnson as the largest review of its kind since the Cold War.

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Replace Harpoon not upgrade? Did I hear that correctly?

Meirion X

The USN is going to use upgraded Tomahawk as ASM of 1000 mile range.


And the stealthy LRASM and NSM on some ships.


Indeed, an interim replacement has already been found I believe.


The upgrade is an interim measure as MBDA is working on a replacement called “Perseus” but this won’t be ready until about 2030, so need an upgrade or interim system until then


Not a prob, they were always going to go. Just make sure they build the new ships!

Daniele Mandelli

Minor. As Rob says.


How does cutting frigates result in 24 by 2030?

Additionally doesn’t cutting sub hunting numbers seriously impact the carrier task force.

Last edited 13 days ago by Steve
The Big Man

Perhaps they forgot about protecting Faslane!


I’m sure the SNP can rustle up some fanatics to patrol the waters in canoes, armed with broom handles that have a knife strapped to the end.


Save money on expensive refits and allows that budget to be used to get a 31 built earlier (in theory) also,
HMS Monmouth is pretty much scrap already as she never entered her LIFEX refit in 2019-2020 as far as I’m aware.
HMS Montrose will need a major refit after her return from forward deployment in the gulf, only minor maintenance available in Bahrain I believe but I’m sure GunBuster has probably seen her recently so can give a better picture.

Alba Seaborne

Monmouth and Montrose are GP fitted, not ASW and both would need £m’s spent on Lifex and refit respectively for a couple of years use.
Would be a poor return, both hulls have done their job.

Meirion X

Montrose has already had a LIFEX in 2018, plus has been worked hard since, so I agree, not much point giving her another LX which could be more expensive next time round.
Yes time for retirement when she come home, and sad to see her go!

Last edited 12 days ago by Meirion X

an excellent question Steve – I cant make the frigate math work either

Meirion X

Yes, carrier escorts will be impacted, if you cut T23(ASW) numbers.
3 are in refit at the moment.

Last edited 12 days ago by Meirion X
James H

Where is the confirmation of what will carry the mine hunting drones? This seems to be completely left out of the speech


From the document 7.23. The Royal Navy will invest £40m more over the next four years to develop our Future Commando Force as part of the transformation of our amphibious forces, as well as more than £50m in converting a Bay class support ship to deliver a more agile and lethal littoral strike capability. Forward deployed to respond rapidly to crises, this special operations-capable force will operate alongside our allies and partners in areas of UK interest, ready to strike from the sea, pre-empt and deter sub-threshold activity, and counter state threats. This will be enabled by the deployment of… Read more »


‘Good’ outcome and not really shocking. HMS Monmouth is in very poor shape and has been stripped of much of it’s equipment for some time, whilst HMS Montrose has been worked very hard in the Gulf and near the end of her life anyway.


The real problem here is axing existing assets with no announcement of a speed up in building replacements? Our first Type 26 isn’t due in service until 2027?????? At a time when we want to operate a carrier strike group we’ll have even less in the way of escorts? Are they planning on up arming the Type 31? Upgrading Type 45? Presumably that’s the anti ICBM upgrade? As for replacing Harpoon, great news, now tell us what you intend to replace it with…..

Last edited 13 days ago by Paul42
James Fennell

That will be in the Defence Industrial Strategy, which comes next. There is also a 30 year shipbulding plan due to come out in the Autumn.


Ah the classic “take a cut today”, “promose we’ll order more for tomorrow”.

They may be shagged (as Hercs are) but its losing 2 crews and all the development they’d have held until new ships come in.

Alba Seaborne

Why losing 2 crews ?, there aren’t enough crews for the fleet as is.
As Iron Duke and Sutherland come through Lifex crews migrate from the retired.

Meirion X

Iron Duke and Somerset be back in active service later this year
And most likely St Albans next year.

Last edited 12 days ago by Meirion X

nothing wrong with the Hercs Rogbob – plenty of airframe hours left . Cutting that capability is simply bad decision making.


Plenty wrong with them! Yes hours, but avionics and structure…

Its a sensible decision given pumping money into old stuff should be something we’ve learned is stupid, and sadly not enough money to buy new MC130Js.

Plus really the vast sums on A400 should be forced to produce something more useful.


true on the avionics Rogbob – can always be improved/replaced. But take a look at the SAAF C130 Bs. Nearly 60 years old and still in operation (only just though). I know from personal experience these aircraft were worked hard, particularly in the 70 &80’s border conflict.

The real point here is expecting 22 platforms to do the work of what was originally 48 – just nuts

Meirion X

Thanks for that info K.!


Boris has totally lost it. Ugh


You only just realised?

Meirion X

Yes, His brain is in worst condition than Biden’s, and only in his mid 50’s!
He may have what cows use to get?
M.C without beening liable!
Editer, please delete if so!

Last edited 12 days ago by Meirion X

Was always going to be a less than ideal set of trade offs but on balance sacrificing Monmouth which is in bad shape, Montrose which will be nackered after her Gulf stint as well as Argyll on time is palatable if in exchange they can keep the 10 younger T23’s that have been through LIFEX going until 2026 with the T31 schedule sped up.

Glass Half Full

It seems Greece is interested in two interim frigates while waiting for new vessels to be built. Negotiations are on a government to government basis. T31 is one of the competing platforms.

A number of options exist if T31 succeeds in the competition. Greece might take Monmouth and do the upgrade themselves, or they might take Iron Duke straight out of lifex, or any number of other permutations involving the 5x GP frigates, depending on when vessels are needed, what costs are involved and whether re-fits, servicing etc are performed in the UK or in Greece.

Paul T

Greece is looking for a couple of Frigates,but both France and Italy are in the running too with both New Build and Loans,they might be better placed to get a Deal.

Glass Half Full

Netherlands too. There’s certainly nothing like a guarantee of UK success. However, the list of competition at the bottom of the linked article include platforms that are significantly more than T31, i.e. Italian FREMM, French FTI and Spanish F-110.


The reality is that the escort fleet will drop by two frigates so down to 17. This situation will persist for some years as there is little likeliehood of either 26/31 or 32 coming into service for at least 5 years plus.In addition we are to lose 15 MCM’s. Notwithstanding the replacement by drones we will lose the secondary roles of these ships in terms of showing the flag,eyes and ears, anti-piracy and drug smuggling,relief and rescue work and minor armed capability.


…13 MCM

Andy L

I know its been mentioned many times in posts about the weapon fit or lack of it, of the T31 but with their present planned fit they can’t be classed in the escort numbers. Steel hasn’t been cut yet and the design is a modular one so at. The very least the power plant needs quietening measures and a hull mounted sonar added. It shouldn’t be prohibitive to return to the planned 24 CAMM silos and be fitted for but not necessarily with SSM. Then you would have a GP escort.


I don’t buy the argument of T31 being ‘not classed as an escort’. I see it as an additional escort in times of strife that might require a CSG entering a conflict. It provides an additional and effective layer of CIWS goalkeeping with it’s gun systems and self Defence with Ceptor. I think you are right that it is not a first rank escort, however.


Type 14/Tribal/Type 21 mistake all over again?

Meirion X

No, the T31 Arrowhead is not compared with T14, and Aluminium hulled T21.
T31 is a general propose frigate.

David Johnson

T21 was steel hulled, aluminium superstructure. T81 and T21 were also GP. My point is that I hope buying low spec frigates built to a tight budget has not worked well in the past. Hope history does not repeat itself.