Cammell Laird has announced it has built a network of more than 2,000 suppliers as it steps up its bid to build the Type 31e frigate.

The shipyard and engineering services company says it is registering more than five new suppliers every week as it builds its Leander Frigate supply chain.

The business is bidding to build five Type 31e frigates for the Royal Navy after the Ministry of Defence took its first steps to reopening competition for the shipbuilding contracts.

The Leander, Cammell Laird’s offering designed by BAE Systems, will also be marketed by BAE Systems to international customers.

More than 400 Leander specific suppliers have registered with the programme since the competition was announced in September 2017 as part of the UK’s new National Shipbuilding Strategy. More than 300 have already been cleared to support the company’s UK MOD bids.

Two supplier conferences, held in February and March this year, saw growing support for Cammell Laird’s proposal, with the business continuing to engage with potential suppliers since.

Tony Graham, Cammell Laird Leander project director, said there were still opportunities for interested parties to join the T31e supplier list.

“While our supplier list is already extensive as we select suppliers for the five Royal Navy frigates, BAE Systems has also had strong interest from other countries, so we are keen to hear from more companies that believe they could be part of the Leander success story.”

Businesses interested in joining the Leander supply chain should fill in a registration form on the Leander website


  1. Looking at the way things are developing the BAE/CL option appears to be favourite.

    I still don’t how a UK shipyard is going to deliver an effective warship at the price tag of £250m.

    The cost of weapons, sensors and computer systems, which make a ship a warship will take up a large proportion of the £250m.

    If they are not equipped with such systems what’s the point of the project? 4000 ton warships that can’t go to war because they been fitted with the systems required.

  2. The Union flag liveried ‘Leander’ they have on their site is something to see.

    If the project goes ahead I hope whichever one ‘wins’ just generates lots of extra value for the economy.

    • I think 3 recent programs have enjoyed the Union flag paint scheme. The UK Boxer APC, the Bae Challenger MBT upgrade program entrant, and now, Leander.

      • Good Morning David and Ron. A note about the “Union Flag”. Throughout the world it is known as the Union Jack. When I was a child in Britain no body apart from a few pedants called it the Union Flag. Then some years back some smart ass regurgitated the myth that you can only call it the Union Jack when flown from the Jackstaff of one of Her Majestys Ships. Since then said smartys take great delight in “correcting” anyone who dares to call it the Union Jack on land. If you refer to the Flag Institute you will see that either term is acceptable on land but my question is-why would anyone swop the jaunty, universally recognised nickname Union Jack for the dull drab tag Union Flag?? There are a couple of Union Flags elsewhere on the planet-notably the Stars and Stripes. So absolutely no offence-you can call it what you like but don’t believe the myth that it is not a UJ on land.
        PS-ironically if it is painted on the Leander then maybe UJ is more appropriate! Also the Naval Jack was always proportioned 2 to 1 whereas the land flag is generally 5 to 3 or 3 to 2. I see the Navy appear to have dropped that proportion

    • Well, first there must be a MoD committee to study the proposal process, then the finalized ship specifications must be approved by a 200 member committee, then the RFP let, then bids accepted after a committee studies the bids received, then the bids must be approved. Every politician must have his say on the bids, and approved bids. A 180-day comment period must be allowed before a contract is awarded. Then the losers have 90 days to appeal, after which a final contract is awarded. Then the winner of the contract must…………………………………………

      And finally, first steel is cut in 2025.

  3. Agree Maurice. They are dragging it out far to long.
    I guess they can tolerate the suspense. Meanwhile the Royal Navy actually needs those ships.

  4. I’d rather see the Arrowhead (Iver Huitfeldt frigate) as the winner as it’s a proven design but I guess whatever proves to be the cheapest option will no doubt come out on top. A budget of two for the price of one (T26) would at least give us a ship worth its salt in my humble opinion.

    Shave the difference off the international aid budget as they can be used to deliver it in the main and be kept on standby for supporting the country at a time of war. Politicians need to start thinking outside of the box on this one and much more when it comes to defending the realm.
    Agree with your comments Maurice 10!

    • It certainly sounds like it.

      Save the Royal Navy site had an interesting article about the £250m including government funded equipment. What isn’t clear is what this means, does it mean that you need to knock of a few million from the 250 to buy the radar/missiles etc, meaning probably £200m or less for the ship itself plus any mission equipment?

      • Hard to quantify what it means but definitely no freebies from the MoD unlike for the Iver Huitfeldt’s (the original Arrowhead 140) where savaged equipment (like guns) and the fitting of, were supplied free by the Danish navy.

  5. Bearing in mind that Babcock’s Team 31 had a conference for supply chain companies back in July, is this Cammell Laird catching up – or going ahead?

      • The July conference was Babcock’s second as well, their first was back in May I believe. They’re definitely not “well behind”, if anything they’re in pole position given the superiority of their basic design, the anti-BAES sentiment, and the distributed build plan lining up with the NSBS.

  6. I feel BAE and CL did not take their bid seriously, leaving Arrowhead as firm favourites (anyone but BAE).

    The Arrowhead team, knowing this, inflated prices.

    I bet they regret it now, because you can guarantee the Leander is going to come in < 250m now.

    • CL will definitely have taken the bid seriously as it will safeguard their yard for at least 10 years. I was shocked they didn’t come in under £250mm but perhaps there was no enough clarity on government furnished equipment which is significant and in my opinion makes Leander possible for £250mm or less.
      Team Arrowhead team, while my favourite design, are facing a tough battle as it is larger, does not utilise as much government furnished equipment, involves more partners (more mouths to feed) some of whom have not fabricate ship blocks for over a decade also being manufactured is so many different yards it makes the project more complex and expensive. They will absolutely struggle to make the delivery dates of 2023 with budget and if they win I think it will be more down to politics than good decision making.

      • I agree with you BB85, everyone is now taking this competition very seriously, because not only is it £1.25bn contract, its also going to dictate the future of British shipbuilding.

        Given the base cost of a Khareef-class corvette in todays money is under £170mn (the original deal for 3 ships included training and such, so the price is likely a bit lower), and with GFE of at least a radar and PDMS taking out the cost of some pricey bits of kit, there is no practical reason an enlarged version would cost more than £250mn. It’ll be a pretty ugly ship, but it will meet every requirement for Type 31.

        Arrowhead is definitely the wildcard, but that doesn’t necessarily make their bid less attractive. Beyond simply giving BAE the finger, it would be a sign of investment into a neglected industry that we could start trying to exploit again, which due to Brexit is desperately needed. Back to the actual design, I highly doubt Babcock and co would simply refuse Artisan and other GFE because it wasn’t in their initial mock up. Its worth looking at the original build for the Iver Huitfeldts as well: 3 year build, constructed in blocks in Lithuania and Estonia which were then shipped to Denmark, exactly as proposed here.

        Arrowhead has just two real flaws: the non-standardised combat system and (proposed) radar, and of course, cost. Now my maths may be wrong, but in 2008 the IH cost $325mn a ship, which in 2018 would be $380mn, or £297mn. So while Leander is an £80mn upgrade to a corvette, Arrowhead is a £50mn downgrade of a well armed AAW frigate. Is it a hard task? Yes. Is it possible? I’d give Babcock and co the benefit of the doubt, they may pleasantly surprise us.

        • Callum – Isn’t one of Babcock’s explicitly stated messages the fact that, by adopting the IH design with only minor superstructure changes, they avoid design costs which helps keep the overall per-vessel cost down. Feeding that into your thoughts on Arrowhead costs in your final (4th) paragraph your estimated inflation-adjusted IH price of $380m/£297m is derived from a $325m 2008 IH per-ship price that presumably did include some design costs amortised across that build program. I know that IH was derived from Absalon so the original IH build wouldn’t, I assume, have needed to absorb much if any hull (as in hull form) redesign costs but the superstructure design changes were (I assume) more significant and Ab -> IH went from a 2-engine setup to a 4-engine setup so even within the hull I assume IH would have needed a reasonable amount of internal redesign to accommodate different compartment sizes and/or roles, different weight distribution calculations, more/different routing of fuel, cooling, electrics etc.

          I’m not saying that all of the above is enough to get £50m savings in today’s money but it should at least contribute something and maybe something reasonably significant.

          Is Thales’s place in the Babcock consortium quite awkward I wonder. If Arrowhead were to win, or to get to the stage where it was the preferred bid, I can see huge pressure coming from the MoD to use not only GFE radar (Artisan) but also for it to come to some arrangement to supply BAE’s CMS. Where would that leave Thales in the consortium if Babcock/MoD could make both of those things happen?

        • Hi,
          I do not think Leander will meet every requirement of type 31 design or at least the published capability requirements.
          Leander is not particularly lean manned a crew of over 110 personnel for a 4000 ton frigate is not that lean.
          Leander also has little to no wide margin compared to Arrowhead, thus future upgrades are going to be difficult. Leander could be acceptable but BAE need to enlarge the hull and put some more tech (automation) into the ship to make Leander less heavily crewed.
          Having said that at least Leander is going to be fitted with Royal navy standard sensors, combat management system and weapons so integration with other RN ships and task groups is easy not sure Arrowhead will easily integrate.

  7. I could be wrong here, but am sure I have read somewhere that the reason behind the temporary halt was down to a number of commercial issues including IP.

    It seems to me that the Iver Huitfeldt version of Arrowhead is no more (pity) and that Babcock are reverting to the BMT Venator design.

    From a cost perspective although I have done this before I think £250m is doable

    1. Hull and MTE = £125m
    2. 5” Gun = £30m
    3 Mk41 Silo x 16 = £20m
    4. Combat System = £40m
    5. Artisan Radar = £6m
    6. Other Radars = £2m
    7. CIW = £5m
    8. Compact C4 = £6m
    9. Defensive AIDS = £4m

    The above comes in at £238m, which leave a reasonable if not spectacular profit for the winning bid, and whilst it is high level, the costs are those published in many cases (artisan from this site for instance). Efficiencies in building hulls can probably bring the hull and MTE costs down further if we would order 10 instead of 5 – but there you go, short sighted and not following our own NSS.

    • I think Artisan the 4.5′ Gun, 30mm guns and DAS will be pulled off the Type 23. Apparently a lot of this equipment is leased from either BAE or groups like Babcock as part of the servicing contracts, so it’s not technically free.
      It would be interesting to see how they get factored into the costs. Ideally we will get 16 Mk41 but I think it will be cut to 8.
      Overall I don’t see why people are saying £250mm is not achievable given how much equipment can and will be recycled.

    • Venator 110 or Arrowhead 120? Arrowhead 120 didn’t have any IH connection did it? Being 20m shorter it certainly couldn’t play the Arrowhead 140’s “there will no need to incorporate any significant hull/superstructure design costs in the programme” card that the IH-derived Arrowhead 140 sales pitch was able to use but isn’t it still a candidate? After it was announced that BMT and Babcock would be combining their bids but before they announced Arrowhead 140 as the design being put forward there was considerable speculation about which of Venator 110, Arrowhead 120 or maybe some merge of the two would be adopted for their bid so I am curious as to why you aren’t putting us back into that uncertainty zone but instead assuming it would be Venator 110.

      If the Babcock consortium remains unchanged, in particular Thales having the same role, then either a Venator 110 or an Arrowhead 120 design would be in danger of inheriting what I perceive to be 2 significant weaknesses of the Arrowhead 140 bid namely the different radar and CMS vs much (for the radar) or all (for the CMS) of the rest of the fleet. Also, with either of those designs being pretty much clean-sheet vs CL’s derived-from-Khareef design I would think that Babcock might need to not only come in within the target price but need to actively surprise (exceed expectations) on price in order to offset what would surely be a perceived negative by the MoD of increased risk from a clean-sheet design (unless they can find ways to effectively neutralise that sales objection). These are the sort of judgements and calculations that any competent sales team will be making in preparing its bid.

      • Fair comment on venator/arrowhead 120.

        It seems to me that the arrowhead 120 brochure is pretty much using the venator design – but I could be wrong. What does seem clear to me is that this ship can be brought in to the price envelope if desired.

        The costs of the equipment I have put in my estimate are all based upon previous contracts (without training, support, spares etc) and in the case of artisan the RN has 20 or so sets ready to rock and roll.

        So even without re-using the Sea Ceptor VLS (which we should) we can bring this in on price and schedule.

        I think its a great opportunity to do something ground breaking, we have the ability and the capability but do we have the commitment.

    • Agree Paceman. This price is doable just not leaving a gigantic profit to the yard building them.
      I think the profit margin is significantly increased once GFE taken off your calculations. It would be nice if one of these bids said hey guess what we are so certain of our design we will build 6, ships for the £1.25 billion programme budget.

  8. It’s easy to speculate as I don’t know the details, but I think Leander is the clear front runner and CL are now taking this seriously. After all they have recent shipbuilding practice, and have had a new contract for wielding research from the govt. The Leander is a stretched Vosper Thornicroft and not BAE design. It’s doable in the time and budget restrictions. Babcock are all over the place it’s a different frigate design every 3 months, it hardly breeds confidence. I think the glitch in the process was caused by the fact that surprise surprise only the Leander met the criteria. If the price had been £350m then Venator 110 would be a front runner. But it’s £250m and I think Babcock are struggling with too many partners and no clear cut base design.

    • I would be pretty happy to see Babcock manage to get a credible Venator 110 proposal into the fight but it would need to address the negatives re radar and CMS commonality and also likely perceived increased risk of what I assume would be pretty much a clean-sheet design. That last negative though is to me also a potential positive (the clean-sheet bit not the increased-risk bit.

      Rehashing that old VT design, which I assume from your statement means it is also the basis of the River B2 and Khareef designs, doesn’t seem to leave much scope for design innovation. If we really want to create successful export products then rehashing old designs seems less appealing than making use of the UK’s excellent design skills to create more innovative offerings.

  9. Oddly enough as a child growing up on the married patch of a infantry battalion, and in all the years regular and reserve military service, it was always the “Union Flag”, only civvies called it the ‘Union Jack”. And for interest, I dragged out my 1966 All Arms Drill Course at Pirbright handouts, and my copy of The Ceremonial Manual 1963, and guess what no mention of ‘Union Jack’. A further perusal of Standing Order for Regimental Standards and Colours 1958 (with amendments through to the 1980’s, also show no mention of Union Flag, while a elder brother a long time Royal Marine (from Boy Bugler to Major) used to get very pedantic that the Union Jack was the flag on the pointy bit of ships while the National Ensign was the Union Flag.

  10. I just read the updated tender docs linked in the article: It states quite clearly that the target cost is 250 mil INCLUSIVE of the Govt furnished equipment without specifying what that actually is. Difficult to know what has changed based on what’s in the public domain but hopefully somehow there is sufficient room for manoeuvre to make the tender work this time: What’s the book value of a second-hand artisan radar I wonder?


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