The first Type 26 City Class frigate, HMS GLASGOW, has begun the float off process, which will see the ship enter the water for the first time.
Over the coming days, the ship, currently weighing nearly 6,000 tonnes, will undertake a series of complex manoeuvres that will move her from the BAE Systems Govan shipyard, onto a barge before being towed down river to a deep-water location in the West of Scotland.
Once in position, the float off will involve the base of the barge being slowly submerged over a number of hours until HMS GLASGOW fully enters the water. The ship will then return to BAE Systems’ Scotstoun shipyard further along the Clyde, where it will undergo the next stages of outfit before test and commissioning.
Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence, said:
“HMS GLASGOW entering the water for the first time marks a major milestone for the Type 26 programme which supports thousands of highly skilled jobs in Scotland and more across the wider UK supply chain. We're continuing to invest in the British shipbuilding industry to maintain the Royal Navy's cutting-edge ability to defend our nation, while strengthening our partnership with allies.”
David Shepherd, Type 26 Programme Director, BAE Systems, said:
“Seeing HMS GLASGOW in the water for the first time will be a proud and exciting moment for the thousands of people involved in this great endeavour. She will soon transfer to our Scotstoun yard in Glasgow where we look forward to installing her complex systems and bringing her to life.”
The BAE Systems engineers involved in the float off of HMS GLASGOW have been specially trained using the 3D visualisation suite which gives engineers access to a full digital twin of the ship. They will monitor the ship closely throughout all stages of the process ensuring that the transition is safely managed. The float off process will also be supported by engineers from Defence Equipment & Support, the MOD delivery agent, as well as members of the Royal Navy.
The float off process is a more modern, efficient and low risk way for a ship to enter the water compared to the previous dynamic launches. The process is well proven, having been used for the five Offshore Patrol Vessels built by BAE Systems in Glasgow, the last of which was delivered to the Royal Navy in 2020.
HMS GLASGOW has been under construction since steel was cut in 2017. The second and third ships, HMS CARDIFF and HMS BELFAST, are currently in build in Govan. The build process for each ship involves its structure being completed in Govan; skilled teams of fabricators and steelworkers construct the units before they are assembled into the forward and aft blocks which are joined together before the ship departs. In Scotstoun, the ship’s outfit is completed and the complex systems are set to work before test and commissioning takes place. HMS GLASGOW will be delivered to the Royal Navy in the mid-2020s.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Defence awarded BAE Systems a £4.2 billion contract to build a further five Type 26 City Class frigates for the Royal Navy, sustaining 4,000 jobs across BAE Systems and the wider UK maritime supply chain.