This is the first of the Navy’s next-generation frigates, gradually taking shape in a huge shed on the Clyde.
This is HMS Glasgow, the lead ship in the new City-class, successor to the workhorse of today’s Fleet, the Duke-class Type 23 frigates.
Eight of these Type 26 ships will replace the «souped-up» submarine-hunting variant of the 23s (those equipped with Sonar 2187 – the towed array streamed from the quarterdeck) from the middle of next decade. (The five general purpose 23s, such as HMS Montrose, will be superseded by the Type 31e frigate which is still at the design stage.)
Work has been under way on the £1.2bn warship since mid-July 2017 at BAE Systems’ yard in Govan.
She’ll comprise more than 60 blocks in her finished form, with all but half a dozen of those giant segments in place by the end of next year.
The size of the vessel and the Govan shed means the ship will be pieced together in two huge sections: first the forward part of the frigate, followed by the stern.
Once the two parts are joined on the slipway outside the shed, the main mast and bridge section will be lifted into place and the mostly-complete frigate will be taken downstream for fitting out at BAE’s yard on the north bank of the Clyde at Scotstoun.
All of which is a couple of years off. For now, Vice Admiral Chris Gardner wanted to see how far Glasgow had progressed in his new role as Chief of Materiel (Ships) at the Defence Equipment and Support organisation – the arm of the MOD which oversees new projects and programmes and provides engineering and technical support to existing military kit.
«You can now stand inside a Type 26 as the zones come together and get a real sense of HMS Glasgow as she takes shape», he said.
Three ships have been ordered from BAE: Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast, while the remaining five vessels in the class have been named: Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh and finally London.
The admiral also dropped in on «mega Medway» – No.2 of five new RN patrol ships – which is about to sail from Scotstoun on her second period of trials; all five vessels have been built in Glasgow, four are in the water and one, HMS Forth, is in Royal Navy hands.