July 20 (UPI) -- Formal production of the first of three Type 26 frigates of Britain's Royal Navy started Thursday at a BAE Systems shipyard in Scotland.
The anti-submarine warship, to be named the Glasgow, will be 492 long, 68 feet in the beam and have a speed of more than 26 knots. Its operational range will be more than 7,000 nautical miles.
"Today marks yet another historic milestone for the Royal Navy, Scottish shipbuilding and UK Defense more widely," British Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon said during a ceremony at the shipyard. "Glasgow will protect our powerful new aircraft carriers and nuclear deterrent, keeping British interests safe across the world.
"The Type 26 is a cutting-edge warship that will maintain our naval power with a truly global reach. Designed for a service life of at least 25 years, the Type 26 Frigates will form a backbone of the future Royal Navy surface fleet into the 2060s."
BAE Systems, which is currently building five River-class Offshore Patrol boats for the Royal Navy, is building the Type 26 frigates under a $4.8 billion contract.
The Type 26 frigate is to replace the Royal Navy's Type 23 frigates. The first Type 26 is scheduled for delivery in the mid 2020s. It will feature a flexible mission bay, aviation facilities and combat systems for a wide range of operations.