Artist's impression of all 8 Type 26s at sea

BRING on the Birmingham. And the Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh and London.

They will join His Majesty’s Ships Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast in the vanguard of anti-submarine warfare after the MOD placed a £4.2bn order to complete the City Class of Type 26 frigates.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has awarded BAE Systems the contract to complete the eight-strong class of next-generation submarine hunters, investing in British shipbuilding and industry into the middle of the next decade, “galvanizing the very best of British engineering, manufacturing and design” and ensuring the “Royal Navy maintains its world-leading capability to protect and defend our nation at sea.”

Vice Admiral Paul Marshall, Director General Ships for the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Supply organisation, added: “The award of the Type 26 Batch 2 manufacture contract is another key milestone in the United Kingdom’s shipbuilding program, reaffirming our commitment, alongside our industrial partners, to deliver a highly effective anti-submarine frigate fleet for the Royal Navy.”

Due to lessons in building the first batch of new frigates, plus improved assembly facilities – including a new undercover construction hall – the final five Type 26s will be built for around two-thirds the cost of the initial trio, and they will be built and delivered to the Fleet more quickly.

The eight 26s replace the eight dedicated Type 23 anti-submarine frigates currently in service (five new Type 31 ships, the first under construction in Rosyth, will supplant the general duty 23s reaching the end of their lifespans) and are expected to serve for at least 25 years, taking the class into the 2060s.

Each 26 will be equipped with the Sea Ceptor missile defence system, a 5in medium calibre main gun, a Merlin or Wildcat helicopter, medium-range radar, powerful array sonars, a Mk41 vertical launch silo for missile systems, and a ‘mission bay’ allowing the ships to carry adaptable ‘pods’ for wide-ranging operations, such as disaster relief, drones, and mine warfare.

And the class will also embrace the latest environmental tech to make them as efficient and clean as possible, minimising emissions and any impact on Nature. 

Construction of Birmingham and her sisters will sustain around 1,700 jobs at BAE Systems yards in Govan and Scotstoun, plus 2,300 jobs across 120 suppliers and sub-contractors.  

The first steel is due to be cut for Birmingham this winter, while HMS Glasgow will be moved from the standing at Govan where she’s been sitting for nearly two years and into the Clyde via a specialist barge before the end of the year. Glasgow is due to be operational by the end of 2028.