HMS Glasgow, the first of eight Type 26 frigates for the Royal Navy, is slowly taking shape.
The latest images of the ship’s construction give us an overview of the overall design of Britain’s most advanced class of frigates. With plans to build eight Type 26 and five Type 31 frigates under the “Global Combat Ship” program, the Royal Navy will maintain its position as one of the most powerful navies in the world for decades to come.
The “Global Combat Ship” program will produce highly capable multi-role warships designed for anti-submarine, air defense and joint operations anywhere in the ocean. Initially, there was not much difference between the two projects, but in 2015 it was decided that five new frigates would be built under a separate project, called Type 31. The other project is called Type 26. The type is the first naval platform shared between Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom since the Tribal-class destroyer.
According to the published design, HMS Glasgow will have a displacement of 7,800 tons, a length of 151.4 m, a beam of 20.75 m, and a draft of 8 m, and a top speed in excess of 26 knots. The adaptable design will facilitate through-life support, ensuring upgrades can easily be undertaken as technology develops. The Global Combat Ship will have a core crew of 157 with room for a total of 208.
The Global Combat Ship is designed for up to 60 days’ endurance and a range of approximately 7,000 nautical miles. Located at the stern are facilities allowing for the deployment of rigid-hulled inflatable boats, unmanned surface vehicles or a towed array sonar. A large Integrated Mission Bay and hangar is located amidship, enabling a variety of missions and associated equipment. Aircraft similar in size to the Boeing Chinook can be flown off the large flight deck, and the hangar can accommodate up to two helicopters the size of an AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat or AgustaWestland Merlin. The hangar also has space to accommodate unmanned aerial vehicles.
HMS Glasgow will be equipped with the Type 997 Artisan 3D search radar and Sea Ceptor (CAMM) air-defence missiles launched via 48 vertical launching system (VLS) canisters. Additionally, 24 Mark 41 “strike-length VLS” cells are positioned forward of the bridge. On July 8, 2021, it was confirmed that the Anglo-French FC/ASW anti-ship missile would be brought into service on the Type 26, which is likely to be launched from the Mark 41 VLS. The Mark 41 is also capable of firing missiles such as the Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile, anti-submarine rockets, or quad-packed ESSMs.
Like the Type 23 frigate it will replace, the Global Combat Ship will have an acoustically quiet hull for anti-submarine warfare and fitted with an Ultra Electronics Type 2150 next-generation bow sonar and a powerful Sonar 2087 towed array. The Global Combat Ship will also be fitted with guns of various calibres. Instead of the RN’s current 4.5 inch Mark 8 naval gun, the Global Combat Ship will be equipped with a NATO-standard BAE 5 inch, 62-calibre Mark 45 naval gun. Smaller guns include two Phalanx CIWS, two 30mm DS30M Mark 2 Automated Small Calibre Guns and a number of miniguns and general-purpose machine guns.
According to military experts, along with 2 Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and 6 Type 45 destroyers, with 8 Type 26 frigates and 5 Type 31 frigates planned to be built, when completed the British Fleet will continue to be one of the most powerful navies in the world for decades to come.