Royal Navy To Name Its Fifth Type 26 City-Class ASW Frigate As HMS Sheffield

The UK Royal Navy’s fifth Type 26 City-class anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigate will be named HMS Sheffield, Stuart Andrew, the UK Minister for Defence Procurement, announced on Nov. 22.

The Defence Minister announced the news at Chesterfield Special Cylinders in Sheffield, a key supplier to the multi-billion-pound Type 26 programme. The company makes high pressure gas storage systems for the ships. The news also came as the Defence Secretary announced he will retain three of the Royal Navy’s patrol ships to bolster Britain’s fishery protection capability.

“HMS Sheffield will be at the forefront of our world leading Royal Navy for decades to come, providing cutting edge protection for our aircraft carriers and nuclear deterrent, and offering unrivalled capability at sea”, said the Defence Minister.

The state-of-the-art submarine hunter will be the fourth ship to carry the name.

The name HMS Sheffield only dates back to 1937, the first being a 9,100-ton Southampton Class Cruiser. She played a vital role in Scandinavia during the Second World War and assisted with the evacuation of Andalsnes in 1940. She also took part in the first major Allied landing of the war in North Africa during Operation ‘Torch’, and patrolled waters from the Mediterranean to the Arctic.This First Sheffield would remain in commission for another 20 years after WW2, serving on the North American and West Indies station for several years before returning to the UK as the Flagship of the Reserve Fleet and subsequently as Flag Officer, Home Fleet.

The second HMS Sheffield was the first Type 42 destroyer, launched in 1971 and commissioned in 1975. Her early career was spent in European Waters, the North Atlantic and the Gulf. In 1982 she was exercising off Gibraltar when the Falkland Islands were invaded. Sheffield became part of the task force to re-take the Falklands, screening the carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. On May 4, she was hit by an Exocet anti-ship missile; suffering extensive damage and the loss of 20 crew members. She was abandoned eventually foundering in heavy seas on May 9.

In Dec. 1982, a Batch 2 Type 22 frigate was ordered, named in honour of the ship lost during the Falklands conflict; this third HMS Sheffield entered service in 1988. An ASW specialist, her operational career spanned the Mediterranean, the Gulf, Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. She was decommissioned in 2002.

The naming of HMS Sheffield, the fifth ship in the city-class of Type 26 frigates, came as Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson also announced the sixth ship would be called HMS Newcastle during a visit to the Tyne.

The first ship of the City-class is named HMS Glasgow, the second is named HMS Cardiff, the third ship is named HMS Belfast, the fourth ship is named HMS Birmingham and the eighth one is named HMS London. The seventh frigate is yet to be named.

Only the first three ships have actually been ordered as of now and HMS Glasgow will not be in operational service until 2027.

Type 26 City-class frigates are  the Royal Navy variant of the Global Combat Ship (GCS) design and manufacture programme of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom. The new class, along with the planned Type 31e class, was selected for the replacement of eight Type 23 Duke class anti-submarine frigates currently in service with the Royal Navy.

The Type 26 will be a multi-mission warship designed to support anti-submarine warfare (ASW), air defence and general purpose operations. The ships will have a crew complement of 118.

The contract award to manufacture the Type 26 was announced by BAE Systems on 2 July 2017. The contracts cover the first three ships – the first of which is currently under construction at the BAE Systems shipyard in Glasgow. A total of eight ships are planned and the contract for the second batch of five ships will be negotiated in the early 2020s.

All of the Type 26 frigates will be built on the Clyde, supported by suppliers across the country and securing decades of work for more than 4,000 people. The first three ships have already been ordered for £3.7bn.

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