The Arrowhead 140’s distributed build and assembly approach would see work going to Appledore in North Devon, Ferguson Marine on the Clyde, Harland and Wolff in Belfast with integration in Rosyth.

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.

The option to build the Type 31e frigates in blocks reflects how the biggest ship ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was constructed. The aircraft carrier was built in blocks by over 10,000 people in six main British cities.

Tony Douglas, the Chief Executive Officer of DE&S, said,

“The Type 31e programme will drive the change that is needed through the entire system, because we have set tough time and cost constraints.

The collective challenge for DE&S and industry is to deliver Type 31e in a different, more innovative way than has gone before. I want this to be a transformation in the way we do business – not just in ships and acquisition but across the entire defence equipment and support portfolio.”

65 COMMENTS

  1. (Chris H) – Please forgive my repetition but when two articles about the same thing appear it can happen
    So simply to keep Rosyth going the idea is to build components / modules on the Western side of the UK and ship them to the Eastern side for assembly? No thought that maybe sharing workload between Belfast and Merseyside is logistically far more sensible @ 145 miles and therefore less expensive and less risk?

    I fear the assumption is already in place that we are going to give this work to Scotland regardless and throw scraps to the Irish and English to keep the illusion of equality.

    Rosyth has been well looked after with the carriers. Glasgow has been well looked after with the carriers and now Type 26. And now they want the Type 31 as well? Sorry but its time for the other 90% of the population to get a share of taxpayer investment

    Cammell Laird with sub contracting to H & W in Belfast is the only fair and equitable decision (as long as their design delivers what is required and I believe it does)

  2. Agree with Chris H.

    In my opinion the Scottish yards have now achieved almost a monopoly on shipbuilding which should be broken. The carriers and Type 26 is more than sufficient to keep the workforce at Rosyth busy. The Type 31 should be assembled in England and Ireland.

  3. Rob well said . Couldnt be more pleased if this is the option We will be able to sale these to other countries if this option is taken up. And at long last they will be on time and on budget it really is time that we got away from BAE and long overdue.

  4. As I understood it Cammel Laird was teamed with the shipbuilding devil incarnate BAe as part of the rival bid.

    If they can build the mega blocks at the satellite yards and assemble them 2 at a time in the big Rosyth dock using the Goliath Crane then you will get a big saving in time and money. Rosyth have the experience of doing this work now so you don’t need to relearn it or teach someone else how to do it.
    Why reinvent the wheel?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the plan. That way they can keep the price down and ensure quick delivery to the RN which is more important than bitching about building in an English only yard.

    • Have to agree, like Barrow is set up for Submarine Construction, the carrier program leaves us with a proven surface vessel Construction process, that benefits yards throughout the U.K.
      Not sure if they’ve already sold off Goliath though!

    • (Chris H) Gunbuster – But Rosyth is on the wrong side of the country if this is a modular build given where the modules will be built. As for two at a time I think you over estimate the Treasury’s appetite for writing cheques…. Remind yourself how long each T26 will be taking?

      If Scotland / Rosyth has to be given work for political reasons (after all it got the carriers only because the local MP was the Chancellor and then PM) then surely the logistically better option would be for Type 31 to be built by Cammell Laird and H & W and the new FSS ships to be assembled in Rosyth from modules built in Tyneside and Appledore. OK Appledore is totally in the ‘wrong’ place but its a Babcock yard and has done excellent carrier modules. These are 30,000 ton ships and would be a better use of the capacity of the Rosyth dry dock

      • Carrier and T45 blocks where built all over the place and towed around to the construction site.
        A T26 is going to be close to 1 bil a pop. Building 2x T31 at the same time to ensure cost savings is a no brainer even for the MOD and Treasury, especially when you could be getting two hulls in the time it would take to build one.
        As for H&W they are the least logistically sound yard in the UK. They are the wrong side of the Irish Sea from the vast majority of suppliers and equipment manufacturers. The added cost of shipping to Belfast would eat up any perceived savings in short order.
        H&W also do not have a stellar record with regards to MOD builds. The Fort boats where something of a cluster when built there.

        • What might an idea is that these satellite yard around the UK, thats H&W, Appledore, Clyde etc could build there own ships as well as the blocks for assembly at Rosyth, and of course building 2x and Rosyth at the same time is a no brainer, of course this only works if there are a lot more that 5. I know Belfast is more than big enough for this (although they haven’t built a full ship since the early 2000s). But it might be a way of maximising efficiency and time saving, its the potential for building around at least 5 ships at once.
          Now I have no experience on the subject but to me it seems like an option for the future.

  5. The UK MOD needs to a huge step forward and order 10 T31e frigates, surely the more ordered the lower the price?

    I accept that their capability will be lower than more expensive warships, but given budgetary constraints and the possible low level threats to our national security it’s a risk worth taking.

    The other step forward is remuneration packages for service personnel something drastic is required, if you want highly trained personnel (trained at great expense by the tax payer) to stay in services then they must be rewarded properly. At the moment they can leave get much paid jobs without the hassle of service life.

    • Doesn’t the NSBS state the desire to build 10 – 5 basic vessels to be used by RN for now, and when they hit mid life refit to be sold off and replaced with the second batch?
      The idea being that ships in this class have a 15 year life span rather than 25 for the high end, so they are sold on at mid life refit time rather than upgraded

      • I do not understand the economics of that proposal.

        I understand the T23s sold to Chile were for around £5m plus the cost of a refit to be carried out by BAE.

        How can that be good for the UK?

        • Depends who pays for the refit, I suppose….. Not sure I agree with it either, but we appear to be able to easily find buyers for our cast offs. Maybe that is why? We give them away and pay for the refits anyway!

          • Ok Andy, not a fan myself of ditching equipment half way through its life especially when no equipment is procured to replace them such as the T23s to Chile.

            If the equipment has come to the end of useful purpose for the UK, such Hermes to India in the 80s, then why not sell it on.

          • Totally agree…. The T23 deal to Chile was done purely to save operational costs. Might just about be breaking even on that deal abut now!

            This design, though, seems to go the other way and provides plenty of space for future upgrades whereas the Leander is much more of a pure “Patrol Frigate” (or Corvette!) which closer resembles the NSBS

          • UK Govt makes the money on training and through life support for vessels it sells to other navies. In the bigger picture selling the hull is peanuts.

    • and there lies the rub. you can spend your life being bitched at for minor uniform infractions, not listened to, endure threats of losing weekends on a whim, being rotated through monotonus training cycles youve done a million times and being made to do guard duty as well as your own job for peanuts. or you can work 9-5 out of service, earn more be treated like an adult and be involved in decision making that improves productivity with the financial backing of an employer, not have to destroy your body to maybe earn a promotion and be valued as a member or a team.
      it’s a no brainer at the moment.
      military life at present is a serious case of mental torture. would you like to spend your life looking over your shoulder and fucking and diving to avoid being screamed at? I don’t blame the lads and lasses for the mass exodus.

    • the R.N still suffers from sailors falling for the grass is greener on the outside myth, until that is dispelled the r.n will still lose sailors.

      • It isnt a myth.
        I am currently sat in work. Its a balmy 38 deg C outside. I dont pay tax here and I still get my RN pension which I do pay tax on paid in the UK.
        Ok there isnt that much grass thats green around at the moment its to hot!…but its definitely better outside.
        I work with a lot of Military Naval Ships. Jack and Jenny on the RN vessels of all classes are not happy with their lot …and that’s across all branches and specializations.

  6. Politically this looks like the winning option. Post Brexit this T31 proposal ticks all the boxes: nod to European roots and a build sharing strategy that includes NI, Scotland and England and affirms the United Kingdom. There must be a Welsh piece I haven’t spotted.

  7. For the umpteenth time on here, could people saying that Scotland is somehow robbing you of all the ship building you deserve down south please give me a breakdown of defence spending per head between Scotland and the rest of the UK. You may well be right that we are the land of milk and honey up here re. shipbuilding, but how can this possibly be examined in isolated from the rest of defence spending? To quote a great man, what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

    • This isn’t a rhetorical point. I would genuinely love to know. What I was once told was that public spending per head was higher up here, but once defence spending was accounted for as well the difference was eliminated

      • Coming from the North East we’ve seen all are yards close and all surface work move to Jockupia. I’m not bitter about that but I feel the Lads up North have a 10 year + order book so the work doesn’t necessarily need to go There. When our London Master, in a fit of panic, promised the Frigate work to Scotland it was estimated that 13 frigates would be about 65,0000 tons (13 X 5000). When they eventually decided on the very expensive type 26, but only 8 units, this gave the Clyde 64,000 tons (8 X 8000). So it can be argued that the government has met that promise, well kind of.

        Now your point Ross about overall defence spending does have merit. With the water temperature being what it is up there (only slightly colder that the mouth of the Tyne) your Jockenese are not known for venturing too far into the sea and never has a Jock been submerged after his Christening. So that’s the main reason that the submarines are built in Gods country. So straight away you get 4/5 of FUkc all of the £50 billion submarine work.

        Armoured work is also concentrated in the land of the 3 Lions and a Dragon. This is an obvious extension of your Jocks fear of confined spaces on the Saturday and Monday morning shift and possible Thursday morning as well.

        Aviation work? Have you ever got on the Plane from Glasgy airport to fly to Spain for the miners holidays and heard the soft Scottish tones of the pilot welcoming you aboard? Me neither so you don’t get that either.

        I’ve lost me train of thought Ross. What were you winging about again?😇

      • (Chris H) Ross – ignoring your unwarranted sarcasm against people expressing honestly held views its interesting you go for the ‘per capita’ figure of money spent with industry when their is a far wider MoD spend in Scotland as a whole as it obviously suits your case. But answer me this; Why should 8% of the UK population take some 90% of the UK naval shipbuilding and feel it wrong for any other work to go South of the Border?

        Even with all submarine building at Barrow the North West only gets £290 per head and that will include BAE’s places like Warton where very expensive Typhoons are built. (F-35 work is funded from the USA) while Scotland gets £280 per head. Of course the costs of Faslane are not included in those figures on Page 16 as its a military base. As Lossiemouth and the others isn’t for example. I would be really interested to see how the South West gets £810 per head and Scotland gets £280 per head with almost identical populations. Not too many carriers built in Appledore .,…

        And of course those were 2015 / 16 figures not 2018 / 19 figures. In summary I guess its the sense of entitlement of the Scots that offends more than the actuality of who does what. But my interest is in equality of spending to all taxpayers from their own money. Its why the MARS FSS ships should be built in the UK.

  8. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they should build the Type 31s at Cammel Lairds with the help of A & P Tyne and use the large dry dock and goliath crane at Rosyth for the F.S.S. ships with the help of their consortium. This would revive shipbuilding across the U.K. with all major shipyards getting work.

    • I agee. Khareef is a proven UK base design for Leander and has a quiet electric drive feature for ASW. No brainer, don’t know why we are messing about with 6500 ton Danish AWD hulls really.

      • You may well be right, and it makes sense as presumably the T31 needs a reasonable ASW capability, otherwise its an (even more) expensive OPV. The main obstacle could well be potentially a political decision to spread shipbuilding to a non-BAE supplier as per the NSBS.

        Regardless, BAE will still provide a fair number of the systems for whichever design is finally chosen.

      • Khareef was a disaster of a project for BAe. I dont even think they made any money on it. It was late, it had major integration problems and thats before the Oto 76 had a turret explosion.

        • I just hope that they arm this ship properly. the last thing anybody wants is an under armed overpriced OPV.

  9. “The Aircraft carrier…….. blah blah blah……….was Built in 6 Main British City’s “………… erm, Appledore Is not a City……. who writes this stuff ?

  10. I find it amusing that people can have a strong view on a ship based on a computer graphic. We have no idea what level of armament will come within budget considering the extra money going into the size of the vessel.

    • The size of the hull is not a huge contributor to cost though…. the weapons systems and ancillary equipment are what cost the most.

      • This is my assumption also, but a large ship that looks like it has lots of capability but with it all down as fitted for but not with or future upgrade potential, means a lot of cost cutting and a lot of political face saving.

    • The armament will change from mission to mission, ship to ship.

      It will have skinny missles and fat ones, long ones and short ones and they will be able to attack under, on and over the sea, including space.

      4 mission bays packed with all kinds of AI goodies we probably have no idea about.

      Talking about their armament, as a fixed concept, is no longer relevant.

  11. I don’t care how many companies build them or where but lets commit to a minimum of twelve and order the first six. Britain’s got talent!!!

  12. I have to say it looks like a superb over all design. I always thought constraining the design to circa 4000 tons was a potentially grave error

    Upgrading, sea keeping weapons type and munitions load outs would all be adversely affected.

    I would be very happy if the RN bought 10!

    I am however struggling to see how they can do this design for 250 Million a copy.

    • i think it shows what can be done when you have competitive tendering and remove the ability to rip off the tax payer. This is the way forward. 2 strong ship designing and building consortiums competing for all uk warships from now on. Bae have made some great ships for us, but with a blank cheque book. Government should now just focus on r&d of hi tech weapons, sensors, radar and the like. We then say to BAE & Babcock ie ‘we need a frigate/destroyer, here’s the tech we want on it (already paid for) now design us the best platform to use it and this is what we can afford. I also think we could reduce costs of future ships by evolving current designs rather than ground up new ones. Our next destroyer must be based on a stretch T26 hull. Already acoustically quiet and retain any other successful features. Give those elements to all competitors to work up from. We could also save money now we have two tiers of frigate – the new high end ships gets all new cutting edge systems, weapons, radar etc, the stuff from the retired high end goes onto the new low end platforms. I guess that’s what we are doing with the t23 to t31, but let’s make it an actual long term strategy.

      • TS,, couldn’t agree more

        Interestingly I used to get hammered on TD for pushing the danish designs and the requirement for cycling kit through.

        I also think Stanflex is the way to go and we need to just do it the way the danish do it as it seems to work.

  13. Boring! Doesn’t matter where or who builds them. If we are going to build them, let’s do it! Stop talking about it ad infinitum. Just place an order and build the damn things!

  14. Agree with Richard get on and place the orders,appledore might be a small yard but they can build on time and within budget ,and they are the only British yard building warships for export.

  15. Refit the T23 arms to the T31 to cut initially costs then refit at the end of arms life.

    Distributes CAPEX into OPEX.

  16. Very exciting times, if we can build these 2 at a time as some people are positing, then I say we commit to getting these five into the fleet ASAP and then 1 per year for the next 25 years (scale and Drumbeat) and just crack on with it.

    If this vessel can be produced and fully armed for anything under £400m it will be an export success and I agree with people that we should also have an absalon class (in fact for the T31 absalon would be better).

    If the MOD really cant afford to spend £400m p.a. On ships of this quality then frankly we should all just give up and stop spending any money on defence.

    Double hanger at the back is a major change I think is needed to the original design, for such a wide ship a single hanger seems a bit basic.

  17. Should also say, that once we are building these, we shouldn’t be afraid to sell them from our own part built stock, just build and if an opportunity arises to sell 1, 2 or 4 use the fact we are in varying stages of build and let the customer take them off the production line.

    This will allow us to get orders other countries won’t be able to deliver in time. Quality, price and quick turnaround, what is not to like.

    Use all our Artisan radars for this class and upgrade T26 to Sampson and then replace T45 in 10 years time with AAW T26 then we have 25 of these and 13 T26 (truly global combat ships) and we get the best of both worlds.

    Lastly sell the Rivers to fund more of these.. job done.

  18. People seem to have got very excited by export orders, without really thinking it through.

    Let’s have a look how the export t31e will work out (as is happening with the t26 and the australian potential order).

    step 1: uk pays the design work
    step 2: uk pays full price on building its ships (sunk money)
    step 3: a foreign nation takes the value produced by the UK
    step 4: the foreign nation wants to support its own ship building facilities and so builds it locally and not in the UK
    step 5: the foreign nation as not interested in its own export orders, focuses on own needs and significantly better arms it than the UK boats
    step 6: the power of the UK is reduced, because its own ships are less powerful than smaller nations

    All of this brings very little value / return to the UK tax payer. The idea that we will suddenly see loads of extra ships built in the UK is madness, simply because we do not have strength of numbers domestically to create the expansion of the ship building facilitates to cope with large export orders.

    If we were to place a solid order for say 10 or 15 straight off (uk tax payer funded), with the idea of selling 5-10 off, once built (or during the build time), we could get value (we could sell for more than cost), but we will instead order small numbers at a time and get no economy of scale. Then hope that a small order of ships will suddenly make a ship that wins lots of exports in a market full of similar designs.

    The UK ordering 5 ships is never going to result in enough investment in the UK yards to make them competitive on the international scene and every country prefers to build domestically, if it is economical to do so.

    • Steve

      I agree and from my perspective I think I made it clear that we need to go big in this and then sell from our production line, this for me is the only way to make this happen.

      We do this by selling all the Minesweepers/hunters (over time) and probably the Rivers B1 & 2 (again over time) and consolidate the fleet on T31and T26 (which will also replace T45).

      I do think this vessel is too big for its intended purpose, but we need a fleet of multi purpose escorts (with CEC) that are overkill for normal ops, but will be useful in a “situation”. I think this is as close to that as possible (although also think we should have used the T26 hull as our baseline hull and gotten the best design from that).

    • Actually, re your Step 1 Steve, there’s an interesting quote in the Jane’s Defence article on this (http://www.janes.com/article/80557/babcock-team-31-unveils-arrowhead-140-design-for-type-31e-bid)…

      ““We see opting for the Arrowhead 140 as a proven design gives us the advantage of not having any design costs to put back into the process; we don’t have to go through first-of-class trials and we don’t have to prove the hull again. So we can replicate that recycled cash back into more capability for our customers,” Craig Lockhart, Babcock’s managing director, naval marine, told Jane’s.”

      … I read that as saying that there is so little new UK design going into it that it is basically an Iver Huitfeldt and doesn’t need any significant design budget or first of class testing, it’s essentially a run-on from what the Danes built with some different systems integrated.

      If I am reading and understanding the quote correctly then, were Arrowhead to win the T31e competition, you would need to change your Step 1 to “Denmark pays the design work” (is in, Denmark paid for the design work, or at least most of it, as part of the original Iver Huitfeld project).

      I’m still very torn on all this. I really would like to know more about the hull. Is it built to commercial standards, military standards, or somewhere in between and also what would be the commercial arrangements between the UK (MoD? Babcock Consortium?) and OMT regarding the hull design were any export orders to be won?

      Even if suitable commercial arrangements are in place OMT are still the original source of the hull design in which case the Babcock Consortium, unless it negotiates rights to be the exclusive export source for the OMT hull design, simply becomes a reseller of OMT technology, presumably wanting to take a profit margin as part of the deal, so why wouldn’t a foreign power cut out the middleman (the Consortium) and go straight to the source of the technology (OMT) to get a better price? This sort of issue with resellers trying to service major bids and the customer wanting to deal directly with the supplier is a widespread and well-known problem (with no widely accepted solution) in the IT industry which is where I used to work and I see the potential for all sorts of similar issues here.

      We live in interesting times.

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