BAE Systems has marked the start of work on the third City Class Type 26 frigate ‘HMS Belfast’, with a steel-cutting ceremony at its Govan shipyard on the River Clyde in Glasgow.

On 29 June, Duke of Cambridge Prince William set the plasma cutting machine to cut the first steel plate for the frigate.

A total of eight vessels will be built as part of the Type 26 programme. BAE Systems received a £3.7bn contract to deliver the first batch of three warships.

The other two ships in the batch are HMS Glasgow and HMS Cardiff.

Last month, Type 26 frigate programme achieved a major milestone with the joining of HMS Glasgow’s forward and aft blocks together.

UK State Defence Minister Baroness Annabel Goldie said: “Today is a significant milestone for the exciting new Type 26 frigate programme and for Defence.

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“We celebrate and receive great support from our UK shipyards. As a Scot, I am very proud of the skills and expertise of our Scottish shipbuilders here on the Clyde.

“These new frigates will be equipped with the most advanced capabilities and technologies, enabling the Royal Navy to counter emerging global threats for decades to come.”

Under the Type 26 programme, roughly 4,000 jobs are expected to be generated across the UK supply chain.

Set to replace the UK’s Type 23 frigates, the Type 26 ships are the original variant of the company’s Global Combat Ship (GCS).

The Type 26 advanced anti-submarine ships are designed to adapt to changing missions and provide required manpower and capabilities to meet challenges.

Each Type 26 ship will be fitted with the Sea Ceptor missile defence system, a five-inch medium calibre gun, flexible mission bay, Artisan 997 Medium Range Radar, as well as towed array sonars.

The second batch will include HMS Birmingham, HMS Sheffield, HMS Newcastle, HMS Edinburgh, and HMS London.

Designed with at least a 25-year service life, Type 26s will serve in the future Royal Navy surface fleet into the 2060s.