Please, Log in orposted an article recently that suggested the RN could see further shrinkage of the surface combatant inventory (currently 17 ships) over the next few years:
A magnifying factor of the retirement of the increasingly ageing Type 23 frigates is that the timeline for the replacement Type 31 frigates will see the first-in-class HMS Venturer enter service in 2027, by which time the fleet could be further reduced with the retirement of Type 23 frigates HMS Lancaster and HMS Iron Duke in 2024 and 2025 respectively.
Should these timelines remain, the UK Royal Navy’s surface fleet of major surface combatants, made up of the Type 23 frigates and Type 45 air defence destroyers, could be down to just 15 vessels. The current structure of the Royal Navy’s missions dictates a 19-strong surface warship requirement among the Type 23 and Type 45 classes.
It's not clear what source the article is using for notional out-of-service dates for these ships. Numerous reports have HMS Lancaster currently deployed in the Persian Gulf and not expected to return home until at least 2025, which doesn't square with withdrawing her from service in 2024.
Please, Log in orcomment posted on Navy Lookout suggests that additional Type 23 frigates will be decommissioned in mid-2020s to provide crews for new T31/T26 frigates some time prior to the latter being commissioned into service:
Frigates “manned” by RN personnel start increasing by 2025 onwards. Even though they are not “accepted into service”,
T31-hull1 will be handed over to RN around 2025
T31-hull2 will be handed over to RN around 2026
T26-hull1 will be handed over to RN around 2026
“Handed over” means, it is fully crewed by RN personnel.
Negative point of this is, these man-power shall be found. So, additional T23GPs will start going out of service around 2025.
Positive point is, RN-owned and white-ensign flying frigate number will NOT decrease (even though 2 or 3 of them are in initial training phase, and not in service).