The Type 32 Frigate programme will soon enter concept phase where the role of the vessel and its capabilities will be decided.
The following was in response to a written question submitted in the House of Commons.
Mark Francois, Member of Parliament for Rayleigh and Wickford, asked:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of the initial operating capability for the Type 32 Frigate; and how will it differ in capability terms from the Type 31 Frigate.”
Jeremy Quin, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, responded:
“The roles and capabilities for the Type 32 Frigate will be decided following the concept phase, which is in its early stages. Therefore, it is too early to compare capabilities with the Type 31 Frigate.”
Despite the above, the Minister spoke previously regarding the role of Type 32 in a previous response, hinting that the Type 32 Frigate will be “a platform for autonomous systems”.
“The programme and procurement strategy for Type 32 will be decided following the concept phase, which has not yet been launched. Further work is required to develop the operational concept however it is envisioned that Type 32 will be a platform for autonomous systems, adding to the Navy’s capabilities for missions such as anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.”
Quin also added that the number of ships in the class will be determined by the requirements placed on Defence by the Government, and the outcome of the development work on the operational concept.
What is the Type 32 Frigate?
According to the recently released ‘Defencer Command Paper’, the Type 32 frigates will be designed to protect territorial waters, to provide persistent presence overseas and to support Littoral Response Groups.
The first mention of a new Type 32 frigate came in the Prime Minister’s 19 November statement. He said: “We are going to develop the next generation of warships, including multi-role research vessels and Type 32 frigates.”
The Defence Command Paper, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’, describes the planned programme:
“Type 32 frigates, designed to protect territorial waters, provide persistent presence overseas and support our Littoral Response Groups.”
The Type 32 was not mentioned in the Government’s 2017 shipbuilding strategy, which overhauled the way the MoD procures warships for the Royal Navy. Nor was it mentioned in the review of the strategy published in November 2019. Early speculation suggests they could be ‘batch II’ Type 31s, but not necessarily based on the Type 31 design, which explains why Rosyth will be building them following on from the Type 31s being built at the yard.
In November 2020, the Ministry of Defence stated that the concept phase for the vessel had not yet been launched but added that the ship is currently envisioned as a “platform for autonomous systems”, used in roles such as anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.
Where will they be built?
The Defence Secretary had earlier appeared to confirm that Rosyth will be building more vessels that previously planned, with the Type 32 Frigate going into built at the yard after the Type 31 Frigate build finishes.
Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, recently stated that Rosyth would be building Tytpe 32 Frigates in addition to Type 31 Frigates.
“We are committed to building the Type 26 in the United Kingdom; it is under construction on the Clyde. In Rosyth, work is ongoing to build the facility needed to build the Type 31s and the subsequent Type 32s. He also knows that I recently recategorised the future Fleet Solid Support ship as a warship. I intend to make sure that, if not entirely, there is a considerable degree of UK build in that process, subject to tender. I have to be cautious about the contract, because the competition is to begin soon—very soon.”