Steel has been cut on HMS Birmingham in BAE Systems’ shipyard in Glasgow.

The warship becomes the fourth of eight anti-submarine warships being constructed for the Royal Navy at the Govan shipyard.

The ceremony, attended by Minister for Defence Procurement, Alex Chalk KC, formally marks the start of the build of the second batch of Type 26 frigates.

It follows a £4.2 billion contract awarded to BAE Systems in November 2022. 

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The Ministry of Defence said the work on the eight warships in Govan will sustain some 1,700 jobs in Scotland, with a further 2,300 jobs across the wider UK supply chain. 

Minister for Defence Procurement, Alex Chalk KC, said: “This is yet another significant milestone for the Type 26 programme, supporting thousands of jobs in Scotland and across the wider UK supply chain.

“Working closely with our industry partners, we are bringing in a cutting-edge class of warships for the Royal Navy, bolstering our maritime capabilities into the coming decades”.

The frigates will replace the bulk of the retiring Type 23 fleet with its primary role of anti-submarine warfare, protecting the UK’s Continuous At-Sea  Deterrent and Maritime Strike Group. The first of the second batch of Type 26 ships, HMS Birmingham will be preceded by HMS Glasgow, HMS Cardiff and HMS Belfast.

At just under 150 metres long, almost the length of 3 Olympic swimming pools, and with a top speed of more than 26 knots and a range of more than 7,000 nautical miles, the vessels will also be capable of countering piracy and delivering humanitarian aid and disaster relief. 

The Type 26 vessels will be armed with the Sea Ceptor missile defence system, able to destroy airborne and sea surface targets. They will also carry a five-inch medium calibre gun, a helicopter, Artisan 997 radar and sonar for navigation and tracking adversaries.

Construction of all of the city-class frigates is expected to be completed by the mid-2030s, with HMS Glasgow, the first in class, entering service by the end of 2028. Designed for a service life of at least 25 years, the Type 26 frigates will serve in the future Royal Navy surface fleet into the 2060s.