Following the publication of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, we take a brief look at the Babcock offering for the Type 31e Frigate, Arrowhead 120.

Babcock say that the design is focused on providing a ‘reconfigurable platform’.

Arrowhead’s, ‘adaptable configuration’ acknowledges operational roles will change through the life of the ship with multiple mission bays incorporated into the design allowing for rapid reconfiguration and re-role to meet changing operational needs.

Babcock said they have been advancing operational and data analysis technologies at a rapid pace.

“Arrowhead is cleverly designed to reduce through life costs by embedding key innovations such as real time equipment health monitoring during the build enabling information to be collected during deployment on the fitness of its systems to inform future service and maintenance arrangements.”

With the vessel able to accommodate a variety of equipment choices and with flexibility at the centre of the design philosophy Arrowhead can be deployed for a broad range of roles from low threat security operations to task force deployments.

Babcock say that the Arrowhead design lends itself equally to either a single build strategy, or a cross–site build strategy bringing together modules – an approach used for aircraft carrier assembly at Rosyth.

Craig Lockhart, Managing Director Naval Marine, Babcock said:

“Arrowhead is a game changing general purpose frigate for modern navies. Optimising Through Life Support costs is at the very core of the principles of Arrowhead’s design and build methodology, all balanced against the ability to deliver the required capability.

In focusing Arrowhead’s development around a sustainable and capable design that will help to keep any fleet ‘mission ready’, Babcock has drawn upon its significant experience in vessel design and support for global clients.”

The 120m Arrowhead is an exciting addition to Babcock’s portfolio of ships. The most recent build example being the Samuel Beckett Class OPVs that Babcock is building for the Irish Naval Service at its Appledore facility in North Devon.

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Harold

The Irish Navy has some extremely well equipped ships, two of them ex-RN. The latest vessels are corvettes by another name.

Fedaykin

The latest Irish Navy vessels when you look at their systems fit are more akin to a large fishing boat and certainly can’t hold the label Corvette.

Don’t be distracted by the OTO-76 on the foredeck the Samuel Beckett class is an OPV design with the systems of a large Fishing Trawler or Rig support ship. It has the radios and radar you would see on civilian commercial vessels, little to no armour and no integrated mission or command and control systems. It does have a basic Electo optical tracker for the 76mm and that is about it!

Paul.P

Some realism. Thank you.

joe

On the contrary Harold.

While they are good value for what they are, they are also the very bottom of the ladder in terms of capability.

As Pacman mentioned, they have the bare bones sensor and communications package.
A camera on the front of the 76mm gun is as sophisticated as it gets.
the 2 x 20mm cannons are manually operated.

Barely adequate for its only role of keeping an eye on fishing trawlers.

Paul.P

Through life support would be a Babcock strength. Worth remembering though that the NSS prioritises short RN life cycles. Sell on and build new is the new strategy. The days of re-engining Type 23’s are over.

Pacman27

the right thing to do – spending £60-100m on refits and life extensions is Crazy, much better to invest that money in new kit.

A 25 year lifespan should see a single major refit around year 15 and thats it. If we can sell them for 30-50% of the build price then we should.

Ron5

Take a good look at used warship prices. The UK would be extremely lucky to get back 5% .

Paul.P

Indeed. Be interested to see if we get our money back for Artisan, Sea Ceptor, revamped services and new diesels for the Type 23s!
http://www.janes.com/article/74921/chile-considers-buying-more-type-23-frigates-from-uk

marc

I am working on one of the 23’s it is buggered.

Ron5

Ha, ha, ha.

All been seen before. But when it’s time for a new ship after 15 years, the Treasury will ask: how much to extend it’s life for another 15? Oh really, that’s cheaper than buying a new one so let’s do that”.

clive

With Babcock teaming with BMT, either Arrowhead or Venator will be abandoned for the Type 31e programme bid. Am I right in thinking that Appledore would be the place where the ships would be built? I hope other companies enter the competition, but the requirement for building in the UK rather hampers companies from abroad with good designs but no access to UK building facilities.

BB85

Its shouldn’t completely stop them the QE was effectively a Thales design which won because it was so much better than the BAE proposal.
The government selected the Thales design then told BAE to build it, who then screwed it up by making sure adding cats and traps would cost £2bn.

Chris

BB85 – Blimey some re-write of history there. I was with you on the Thales design, although others did have a hand in the design work, but also bear in mind the French were supposed to be buying a CATOBAR version, ‘PA-02’, and one condition was using Thales. So not quite as you presented. The Government didn’t tell ‘BAE to build it’ at all. Building work was to be provided by the ‘Aircraft Carrier Alliance’ (ACA) spread out over 4 companies at 6 sites and including the MoD. They weren’t even assembled in a BAE Yard. Rosyth is a Bacock… Read more »

Mike Saul

Passively engineered? What does that mean.

As I recall a labour defence minister told us back in 2008 that carriers were future proof? Meaning in his his words they could be easily modified to CATOBAR in the future at modest cost.

When the Tories examined this in 2010 that modest cost was in excess of_£2bn per carrier.

Investigation of the actual contracts revealed there was no requirement to build future proofing into the carrier.

Regards BAE it’s a vast multinational, some parts are well run some parts are not.

Fedaykin

It means nobody really expected the vessels to be reconfigured to CATOBAR during their lifetime. You have to remember what won in 2003 was a concept for a large conventional carrier configured as a STOVL one. It wasn’t a design by any measure, that came later. Future proofing them to be converted to CATOBAR was an admirable concept and certainly the design teams did put some effort to the idea that it could be done at some point in the carriers life but that doesn’t mean it would be cheap or easy like some have rather unfairly assumed. In the… Read more »

Mike Saul

Thank you for that detailed explanation

Robert blay

Extremely well said, finally a informed reply

Fedaykin

Appledore not suitable for final assembly of a vessel the size of a T31e, more likely Rosyth for final assembly with Appledore and other yards building blocks which would be in line with the direction the government wants.

Tim

Appledore built HMS Scott in 1996 at 13,500 tons. I expect the river estuary has silted up a bit by then though.

But what an opportuinity for SW investment if the T31 got built there. Perhaps 12 of them as light frigates and 12 more configured as MCMV / GP mothership ships. All built over 24 years followed by 24 more years for replacements. Just saying…

Ron5

@clive

The MoD is insisting that the T31 design is British and owned by the UK.

By the way, the Thales carrier design was created with British naval architects from BMT leading Bae design teams. 100% British.

Armand2REP

Actually the Thales carrier was designed by DCNS, Thales doesn’t know how to design ships.

Steve R

Agreed – why can’t overseas designs be built in the UK? It’s not like we need a new design every week, and a ‘team’ approach seems to be the way things are going anyway. BAE vs Babcock/BMT seems to be what we’re heading for, not exactly spoilt for choice! I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or the other withdraw, leaving the usual ‘sole upplier’ option. Indeed, foreign collaboration may be a way for UK companies to get a foothold in the MEKOesq build market. Many countries license produce overseas designs with excellent results (India, Australia etc) and as long… Read more »

Chris

Steve – BAE are not actually in the Type 31e competition as BAE Systems. They are providing combat system and other support to Cammell Laird on Merseyside and A & P on Tyneside who will be the main building yards. BAE will also add huge export nous and reputation (which seems to be better in the USA and elsewhere than in the UK). Babcok / BMT seem to have a viable design but only building in Devon (good though it is) may actually count against it. The NSS is looking to spread the taxpayer funding around the UK. For which… Read more »

Elliott

Yes without a older company’s name attached CL would be sunk but with BAE who have a decent world reputation and actually a good one in the US they have a shot. The reason BAE has a better reputation worldwide is they actually have had to compete, so they behaved themselves on contracts. Their rep in the US they pretty much inherited from United Defense when they bought them for a song after the bottom fell out of the ant-communist market.

Paul.P

Could it be that the reason BAE’s reputation in the US is that they are are not lumbered with a customer who is always changjng the requirements?

Elliott

The DOD in the US does change requirements often. The difference is they pad the development budget to account for it.

Ron5

Bingo!!!

Paul.P

Overseas designs should not be built. By all means learn good ideas from them but warship design and building ought to be a sovereign capability for the UK.

Indeed design and development is the jewel in the crown for any top division Industrial Nation and increasingly so in the future. The US, Sweden, France, Germany have it at their core, even China is striving to become the designer over simply the workshop of the World, it knows the value in it. The metal beating just keeps people in jobs, good but leaves you a follower. Britain has sadly lost so much of that creative capacity already within the Industrial sector as it declined, it really can’t afford to lose its creative minds many of whom are as good… Read more »

Mike Saul

I hope the Bacock/BMT arrowhead 120 is selected.

Colin

Mike S : Well said ! I hope that ArrowHead is selected and we have nothing to do with Bae. We need something that other countries will buy on the export market. We need her to be upgradeable and have a good weapons fit we need her to come in on time and on price I think out of all them Arrowhead is the best looking and may be Spartan second . We need to get away from BAE and its monoploy….. Come on Babcock she look like a old Type 21 from the Front

Mike Saul

I am not a naval architect, but with the arrowhead I like what I see.

Flexible modular design with plenty of weapons and sensor stations, rather than some bastardised design which looks incapable of meeting the the core needs of navies around the world let alone the RN.

Very true, lack of flexibility has plagued our designs in the past, we need to look outwards.

Evan P

I’m not a fan of the weapons fit on the Arrowhead. The 16 VLS will presumably be for Sea Ceptor, leaving just those box launchers. It does seem like we’re going away from box launchers, but I would be much happier if the 16 VLS were Mk41, and rather than the box launchers there were 8 VLS for Sea Ceptor. In my opinion, T31 needs Mk 41 VLS to be considered a credible frigate.

Evan P

Spartan has the same but with another 8 Mk41 VLS next to the hangar (I say another because the 16 bow VLS are also MK41). Stellar Systems have said that the box launchers are also just place holders, so Sea Ceptor could go there. That is a well armed ship.

Robert Stevenson

My understanding from DSEI 17 that the 16 VLS were MK41 from Lockhead Martin capable of holding 4 Sea Septors per launch tube, you could have 32 missiles in 8 tubes, giving you 8 for ASROC or harpoon type missiles

Lee H

What about the Spartan design? And when BAES are talking about combat system etc. What platform are they integrating it on? You build a ship around the combat system T45 – Aster 30, T26 around Anti sub etc. It is good see competition for once though, companies are now starting to come up with different options (and being paid to do so) which can only be good for the UK in the future on the international market. Timelines are also challenging – dare I say it we might actually get something on time. We used to be a nation of… Read more »

Steve

It is strange that BAe is so effective abroad and yet appears to be inefficient in the UK, which makes me wonder if the combination of small build numbers and poor vendor management by the government is actually to blame.

Mike Saul

BAE in the UK is addicted to cost plus contracts and has a monopoly in many sectors, they do not need to manage projects effectively any cost overruns are picked up by the UK taxpayer.

Steve

but that is poor vendor management by the government. They should structure the contracts better with more certain penalty clauses etc. Being a public sector contract though, I can’t help thinking there are probably a load of back handers flying around to ensure the contracts don’t penalise bae. saying that must be the same in other countries.

Steve

in private sector if you mess up a big contract because you didn’t see a way the vendor could exploit it, best case your made to feel very uncomfortable and then if you mess up again best case your sacked. Somehow the public sector seems to make the same mistakes over and over and doesn’t learn from them.

Mike Saul

Over the past 40 years the UK government has been complicit in creating corrupt system.

Politics have made our shipbuilding and defence industry uncompetitive on the world stage.

Paul.P

Cost plus contracts are what a supplier insists on if the requirements are not clear when the contract is signed or they need to protect themselves against enforced late changes to requirements.

Rover10

All new designs must allow space for multiple drone deployment, as this will be one of the most important developments in the coming years. Helicopters or equivalent size aircraft will need to be accommodated too, as this facet of operational flexibility will always be part of shipborne practice.

Pacman27

Lets not forget Spartan guys – its a great design and is as someone else said “looks British” and for me does stand out from a design perspective (it looks different). It also seems to me to have better multi mission spaces but of course this may not actually be the case as it is very much a design only at present. The good thing for me is that we have regenerated industry excitement around this and the skills are still around. Next we should do the same for our land vehicles (all of them) get a strategy sorted (TD… Read more »

Paul.P

I agree Spartan ‘looks right’. And if something looks right it often is right. But two questions: how mature amd detailed is the design and who is going to step forward and bid to build it for £250m?

Pacman27

Agreed Paul I do think that we must have a load of data and hulls that we can get going rather quickly (even a T23 hull) and reconfigure accordingly. I could see a joint BMT/Spartan design eventually coming to the fore. For me this is the time for the industry to work together and come up with something world class, I also think that the Irish OPV’s do lead the way here – if these can be built at around 71m Euros each (Wikipedia) then surely we can build a T31 for 4 times this cost. I for one am… Read more »

Paul.P

Agree the £250m should be doable, at least for the ‘core’ spec. Not sure I would extrapolate from Babcock’s Irish OPV design and manufacture experience. These are simple ships, not warships. But what they do have is deep knowledge of how robust a RN warship needs to be from their Type 23 refits and of course they made blocks for the carriers – to someone else’s design. As would be the case for Arrowhead or Venator. Right now I am seeing only 2 lead bids but maybe 3 options. Cammell Laird bidding the Leander design ( really a BAE Cutlass… Read more »

Pacman27

Paul I know they are simpler ships and that it is dangerous to extrapolate, but and its a big but, you have to start somewhere and the Euro 71m Irish OPV has a 76mm Otto and is total cost, my cost profile allows for a hull and M&E cost of £100m without any weapons – so I think it is realistic – even for a more complex ship. Our River 2’s are far more expensive and seem to be less capable, so it is a good starting point to review why and then correct. I am no expert (far from… Read more »

Tim

The helicopter doesn’t have to be a Wildcat or Merlin. It could be a Eurocopter EC635 which is only £5m. Less capable but this is only a light frigate.

If the gov really did some joined up thinking all the police helicopters and air ambulances in the country (some of which are EC135 – a civilian version of the EC635) could have some great economies of scale. The AAC also need a replacement for their old Gazelles.

Paul.P

The Gazelles do need replacing. But the Type 31 helicopter does have to be Wildcat for the RN. With its Seaspray radar and other sensors Wildcat is a sophisricated surveillance and attack system capable of launching depth charges, torpedos, Sea Martlet and Sea Venom missiles; in addition to utility and constabulary functions it fulfils with stretchers and gp machine gun. Foreign navies can order it with a dipping sonar. It is a completely different animal to EC 635.

Paul.P

I believe Arrowhead is based on the proposed USCG cutter; which I am sure will be a fine ship. However, not withstanding UK purchase of US platforms like Poseidon I believe warship design and building ought to be sovereign capabilities for the UK as an island nation. Choosing Arrowhead would be the start of a slippery slope. We should choose Venator, Spartan or ‘Leander’. If Leander ( modified Cutlass as I understand it) is chosen then any defects in the relationship should be fixed rather than cut loose from the largest and most advanced engineering skill set in the UK.… Read more »

Mike Saul

The USCG cutter is from a Canadian design business of an Italian-owned Norwegian shipyard.

Paul.P

I rest my case. We should own the intellectual property rights of our warship designs. The RN is part of the national DNA.

Mike Saul

But over the past 40 years we have shown that we no competitive shipbuilding industry.

We have to have a new approach if we wish have a viable industry, if we do not then at some point in the future the industry will cease to exist.

Paul.P

Agree compteley, which is why it is good to see a published spec for Type 31 with clear statement of core ( minimum must have) and adaptable ( future growth) requirements.

Elliott

The Cutter is being built by Eastern Shipbuilding Panama City Florida. Foreign designs can be purchased by the US military ex.(Harrier, Beretta,). Babcock designed the superstructure, electronic and combat systems integration. Eastern Shipbuilding however came up with the hull form, basic systems, and power plant. What they needed was a partner with experience in military systems and design. Due to Eastern being a civil builder mostly building oil platform supply ships, tugs, and ferry’s but they have been trying to get into the Military market by getting the CG contract. Babcock needed a way into the US market so a… Read more »

Paul.P

Not being an expert in ‘open system’ for naval ships does it make sense to have half the RN fleet with commms amd combat management systems built and integrated by BAE while the Arrowhead Type 31’s have cms designed by Babcock?

Elliott

In the USN where their are far more contractors than BAE usually the the coms, cms, and weapon systems are only suggested by the contractors and final selection is made by the buyers and acceptance (and therefore payment) is contingent on integration.

Furthermore armament manufacturers design their products to be able to integrate with as many things as possible. For instance their are currently 5 major ship builders involved in USN construction of combatants. Integrating hardware and software from hundreds of companies around the world.

Paul.P

Thx. Just saying I can’t use my ipad for every web site I access. I need a pc as well….

Steve

I’m not convinced local ship building industry is really needed anymore and I think we should focus on value for money. the idea of local is based around the idea that in a war situation we could churn out ships. The problem is the weapon systems mean that mass building just can’t be achieved anymore. With modern weapons the average ship takes years to build and needs items from around the world to make it more than an empty hull. the same has happened to the air force and army, they have gone fully foreign for value. its time the… Read more »

Paul.P

My old boss used to say technologies are either a commodity or a ‘circus act’. RFA tankers are a commodity – you buy on price. Frigates are a circus act – you buy on expertise and you make sure you cultivate it.

Elliott

The overprice comes from not buying enough ships. Small production runs always result in higher costs. Build local is based on not only war production but also a very overlooked thing. The ability to MAINTAIN the equipment and personnel. Yes it is always going to be expensive and if you’re buying the good stuff it should be there is a old Swedish saying “We are to poor to buy cheap things.” Yes there should be more joining allied procurement but domestic production should always be secured where possible.

Steve

But why, please explain to me why we need to maintain this expertise locally. We are seeing that maintance of high end tech can’t be done fully locally anymore, once you cross the line of no longer fully controlling the supply chain of anything, whether its military equipment or LCD tv’s you ask why bother trying to maintain any of it and instead focus on what makes you different. Think TV’s, Panasonic etc no longer make panels and so have got rid of their full production lines and instead focuses on tweaking the LG panels it gets to max their… Read more »

Paul.P

If you are looking for a reason we should maintain skills locally look at France, home of Airbus, MBDA, DCNS, Rafale, sovereign nuclear deterrent….
Skills = high tech jobs, control of strategy and product evolution and control of selection of manufacturing location and the jobs that go with that.

Elliott

Correct

Mike Saul

We should define what are strategic defence industrial facilities that we must retain. I am open minded as to what that should be, for example I consider the ability to design and build nuclear submarines to be of strategic importance, however the building of light frigates is not of strategic importance and can only be justified if sizeable export orders can be achieved. Technology change is accelerating at a pace not seen before, perhaps the it is only way ahead for our defence industry to survive but to do so involves financial risk. One thing is certain we cannot try… Read more »

Will

If it comes in at around £250m a piece then why not? That seems to be the main criteria.

dadsarmy

Bearing in mind one of the aims of the NSS is to break the BAE virtual monopoly, Arrowhead / Venator would be a good option, depending on which design or amalgam of design was chosen to be put forward by Babcock.

Babcock have said they’ll work with any shipyard, which could include Rosyth itself, or basically anywhere.

Paul.P

Fallon has visited Ferguson on the Clyde and suggested Type 31 is an opportunity for them. Lots of permutations opening up. Ferguson and Cammel Laird could both build complete Cutlass / Leander hulls amd BAE could supervise systems integration or Ferguson, Cammell and Appledore could make modules of the hybrid Venator/ Arrowhead design for assembly at Rosyth. Depends how literally you want to take the NSS.

joe

Well, it’s better than the BAE offering we seen last month

Ron5

Bae hasn’t shown its design so you must have been dreaming.

Paul.P

As I understand it Cammell Laird would be lead bidder for a consortium in which BAE would be a ‘major risk bearing partner’ or ‘provider of major sub systems’ like combat management systems.
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/645149/T31e_RFI.pdf

Mr Bell

Arrowhead would be fine, do not care if we get arrowhead or venator just so long as not cutlass or avenger. whatever design is chosen we need first batch built and in service before 2024-2025 to prevent royal navy shrinking below its pitifully low escort numbers we have now. following first batch of 5 vessels there needs to follow a subsequent batch of 5 vessels before 2030, then once 10 in service a continuous low rate construction of 1 vessel every 12-18 months for the next 15 years. What the RN needs is a small increase in manpower by 2000-3000… Read more »

Ron5

May we ask why you dislike Cutlass & avenger??

P tattersall

2 new flat tops new ships being built new sub’s .. The royal navy is getting rid of old ships with brand new state of the art ships soon getting the F 35 and we are the biggest and most modern navy in Europe and ppl still moan unbelievable ..

Daniele Mandelli

We need the right balance of quality and quantity and it’s simply not there at the moment due to several well known reasons.

Ron5

Define “biggest”.

Tim

Some research I did in March this year. The UK and FR ship numbers over 100 tonnes. Under 1,000 tonnes in brackets. Data from Wikipedia. Subs: UK = 7 + 4. FR= 6 + 4. Carriers: UK = 2 building but use only 1. FR = 1. Amphibs: UK = 2 but use only 1, + 1 to retire early. FR = 3. AAW Escorts: UK = 6. FR = 4 + 2 building. ASW Escorts: UK = 8. FR = 3 + 3 building + 5 to retire. GP Escorts: UK = 5. FR = 11. OPV: UK =… Read more »

Don

Arrowhead looks good ,. But in its current form is a second line unit as it does not meet shock standards.

https://youtu.be/8_IW7TkptJQ

If these were met it would be a great ship.

Interesting that Spartan is being offered as a credible war fighting frigate with survivability built-in and capable of surviving damage.

Another idea may be something like the Crossover.

http://products.damen.com/en/ranges/crossover