The name of the first Type 26 frigate to be built for the Royal Navy has been announced during a steel-cutting ceremony held at Govan shipyard in Scotland.
Pressing the button which officially marked the ship’s construction start, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced that the first Type 26 frigate would be named HMS Gowan, the 9th Royal Navy ship to bear the name.
It was also announced that the new frigates will be referred to as the City-class.
“As an island nation, we are utterly dependant on the sea for our security and prosperity,” Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord, said. “The City-class confrims the historic bond between the Royal Navy’s fighting ships and our great centres of commerce and industry.”
The steel-cutting ceremony took place less than a month after shipbuilder BAE Systems received a £3.7 billion contract to build the first three ships in the class.
Overall eight vessels are planned to be built to replace the equivalent number of submarine-hunting Type 23 frigates currently in service.
The Type 26 frigates are 60ft longer and 2,000 tonnes heavier than their predecessors, equipped with bow and towed array sonar, Sea Ceptor air defence missiles and a 5in main gun.
The ships are also equipped with a mission bay for plug-in containers carrying equipment for specific tasks, such as disaster relief, and a flight deck big enough to take a Chinook – though the Fleet Air Arm’s Merlin and Wildcat helicopters will be more common.
In due course, the Type 26’s firepower will be bolstered by the future offensive surface weapon – the missile currently being developed to replace the Harpoon.