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Built in Britain: World-leading warship HMS Glasgow enters the water for first time

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HMS Glasgow moved onto giant barge for sea launch (Image: BAE Systems)

The first of the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates is due to enter the water for the first time.

The float off process for HMS Glasgow started today and will see her travel from her current location at Govan shipyard in Scotland to Scotstoun over the next few days to continue her build.

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. She will then return to BAE Systems’ Scotstoun shipyard further along the Clyde, where she 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.

Image of HMS Glasgow, seen here under construction at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Govan on the River Clyde (29/06/2021). Photographer: Jack Eckersley – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021. OGL (Open Government License).

Brigadier Andy Muddiman RM, Naval Regional Commander Scotland & Northern Ireland, said: “The floating of HMS Glasgow today represents an important milestone in the build of the Royal Navy’s latest anti-submarine warfare frigate. 

“This is the first of eight Type 26 frigates being built by BAE Systems in Glasgow.

“The Royal Navy’s exciting programme of ship building in Scotland, which includes five Type 31 general purpose frigates being built by Babcock International in Rosyth, will generate jobs, skills and economic benefits in Scotland for many years to come.”

HMS Glasgow is the first of eight City-class frigates to be delivered to the Royal Navy. HMS Cardiff and HMS Belfast are also under construction with the contract for the final five being awarded this month to BAE Systems.

The frigates will be anti-submarine warfare specialists and will work alongside the continuous-at-sea deterrent and the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

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