The Government have again confirmed the numbers and entry into service date of the Type 31e Frigates.

Earl Howe, The Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence and Deputy Leader of the House of Lord said in response to a question:

“The National Shipbuilding Strategy envisages that the Type 31e will undertake a broad range of roles currently delivered by the Type 23 general purpose frigate, of which HMS Argyll is currently the first to leave service in 2023. We want the first Type 31e to enter service in 2023, with all five ships delivered by 2028.

The exact dates for the delivery of the Type 31e frigates are yet to be determined so it is too early to release the numbers of ships in service at any one time.”

This comes not long after the previously suspended Type 31e programme, which could see sections of the ships built in Scotland and England, was restarted.

An MoD spokesperson said that a prior information notice has been issued to industry and a new contract notice has been issued.

“We have issued a Prior Information Notice for our new Type 31e fleet and plan to start discussions with industry next week to ensure we do not lose any momentum. There have been no changes in our plans to procure a first batch of five new Type 31e frigates to grow our Royal Navy. We still want the first ship delivered by 2023 and are confident that industry will meet the challenge of providing them for the price tag we’ve set.”

Prior to this official confirmation, a Ministry of Defence spokesman insisted that the project would still be going ahead, hinting that industry will have to refine their bids to meet the price tag:

This is an early contract in a wider procurement process, and we will incorporate the lessons learned and begin again as soon as possible so the programme can continue at pace.”

According to USNI here, an article published recently by Jane’s stated that at least two of the potential bidders had earlier regarded the terms and conditions set by the MoD as unworkable, citing both commercial aspects and intellectual property rights.

“Even if the MoD achieves its stated intention of ‘delivering’ the Type 31e lead ship in 2023, the subsequent sea trials, crew training and work-up could see entry into operational service slipping a year or two.”

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David Taylor

Howe, now there’s a good naval name: Utcumque placuerit deo……..


stupid name, it’ll never work!


Oh god no,I keep hoping that the stubborn idiots will see sense. This is lunacy.

Daniele Mandelli

Why Grubbie?

andy reeves

utter fantasy , since when have u.k yards produced that number of ships at that rate? pie in the sky


The Type 21s took 4-5 years from laying down to commissioning, same for the Type 23s. 3-4 years for T31 is certainly optimistic, but with modern technology and smart project management it’s far from fantasy.


This wretched programme’s gestation is more painful than pulling teeth! When will someone actually give the go ahead? Why do some British projects get so protracted, take HS2 as an example, is it happening or not? All I do know is some bright spark suggested the route compensation had been widely underestimated by billions, you simply could not write this stuff as fiction!!!!!!!!!

Andy G

This must be your first programme.


(Chris H) Maurice10 – I think T31 procurement is exactly in line with the NSS and how we should do future builds. Set the price, see who gives the best bang for the bucks (in the UK) and give them a contract for all the units required straight off. Subject to the contractor delivering the first boat as agreed of course. Now as to HS2 that has taken a long time because it needs 3 Parliamentary Bills – one for each phase and the planning had to fit it in between a crowded set of places and railway and road… Read more »


Well, that’s encouraging Chris on HS2. As for type 31 let’s hope the process works?


Surely the idea is not to to say I have 50p which sweetie can I have.. Surely at this level the concept should be this is what I have already… This is the gap…. This is what I need to fill the gap… Make me your best offer to fill the gap…..


(Chris H) Pete – Not sure comparing Frigates to sweeties works as an analogy but lets take it forward. We are spending big money on delivering exactly the ‘gap’ you define – Its called the Type 26. lets call this the Black Magic box full of every flavour and shape you want.

Now after spending so much of your pocket money you go back to the shopkeeper and say ‘Mister I have £x how many sweets can you sell me?’ Well the bags of liquorice you end up with are Type 31s …


Having watched Mega Shippers on Quest TV, specifically the movement and launch of the B2 River HMS Trent. Begs the question how on earth are BAE going to move and launch a T26 from Govan. It was marginal with a 2000t vessel!


Well they managed it with the Type 45s (with something like 12 metres to spare) so I reckon they’ll be able to safely launch a T26.


T45s went down the slipway, current T26 plan is to trolley them onto a submersible barge, tow down to Greenock and lower them into the water there. Then tow back up the Clyde to Scotstoun to be fitted out. The program showed they couldn’t tow in winds above 24k, a very common event in Glasgow and struggled to keep the barge straight for the relatively short distance to the upper docks (not Greenock) despite good weather.


Damm I do miss a good old conventional slipway launch.


I don’t really understand the objection to this programme or to the way it has been handled. Clearly we cannot afford a whole fleet of T26s given their hulls etc or indeed man them along with the carriers. We do however need constabulary ships able to navigate the globe with decent protection and some offensive capability. The MOD has tried to limit ever growing costs by introducing a price point. A good idea to stop designers coming up with gold plated everything again at huge cost. Yes the process has had to be restarted but so what? If we get… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Rob this is very much how I see things too.

I’m tired of seeing billion pound ships sent off singly chasing pirates and drug smugglers then people saying the QEC has no escorts.

Is it not time for the RN to reorganize itself to ensure it’s T26 and T45 are there for what they are best at?

Especially with so few hulls.


Sadly this is just the reality of defence issues, everybody has different ideas of how things should be done. With a bigger defence budget that wouldn’t be so much of an issue, but because funding is limited everyone is fighting tooth and nail to make sure their plans go ahead. Its been going on for decades, even centuries. Earliest example I can think of is Jackie Fisher, father of the dreadnought and battlecruiser concepts. At every opportunity he pushed through his concepts, and even when he was outright banned from ordering more battlecruisers he simply changed the name to “large… Read more »

Andy G

Right, in fact this is a very fast procurement.

Anthony D

Rob, Danielle… well said.


Spot on Rob.

Nick C

Maurice, if you think this is a long time I suggest that you look at the National Shipbuilding Strategy paper produced by Sir John Parker. There is a table of time lines in there and I draw your attention to what is now the Type 26. A replacement for the T22/23 was first looked at in the 1990’s, and assuming the programme stays on track the first ship, HMS Glasgow, will be operational in 2026, a gestation period of over 30 years! And that assumes that it all works to time, which as we all know is not a given.… Read more »

Paul T

Nick – yes id agree with the frustrations of the gestation period of the T26 ,but a thought just occurred to me,as things stand Artisan and Sea Ceptor are key to the T26 design,they are recent capabilities,if the T26/Global Combat Ship had been built any earlier then would they have needed an interim sensor and weapons fit and an expensive upgrade later ? Perhaps there is indeed method amongst the madness.


This was interesting.

Fully equipped, an Iver Huitfeldt frigate costs the equivalent of $340 million, Rear Adm. Olsen said. Most of that, about $207 million, goes to weapons, sensors, and other electronics, which drive the cost of modern warships worldwide. The hull, engines, and other mechanical systems (HME) only cost about $133 million

So the government appears to be on the right track, nothing wrong with putting a bit of pressure on industry drive efficiency.


If you believe certain sources (, the Russians are building their Admiral Gorshkov frigates for $260mn a pop, or £196mn. I don’t really trust the website, and I get the feeling that isn’t a current price. Working on the basis that that was its 2005 order cost, accounting for inflation, comes out at $336mn, or £253mn. At the very least that sounds more realistic, if still low for such a capable (looking) platform. That’s a 5″ gun, 16 strike VLS, 32 AA VLS (with an optional quad packable short ranged option), 2 CIWS, 8 torpedo tubes, helicopter facilities, a towed… Read more »


Although UK Labour will be more expensive I would hope that we are more efficient and productivity offsets the Labour costs to some degree.

The polar research ship come in at 200m for an 11000 ton hull so around 110m for a 6000 ton hull sounds about right. So leaves 140m for weapons and systems.


The UK labour costs will be way more expensive; at an educated guess 8-10 times more expensive. Plus I doubt the quality of workmanship will be as high.


Get back under your bridge troll

Levi Goldsteinberg

Anyone considered the possibility that the MoD are waiting on word from HM Treasury about defence budget modification come November before confirming T31 order numbers, variant and dates?


Actually hadn’t considered that. Given that the funding for the Type 31 in the equipment plan still hasn’t been confirmed, waiting for final confirmation of their budget is a smart move.


Yes it has.

Nick C

Paul T. I’m not sure that there is ever much method in the madness that is defence procurement, although I am probably being cynical! I think that it is arguable that the Artisan/ Sea Ceptor is the key to the design, I think that the 2087 is probably considered the heart of it. If the first T26 batch had been ordered to keep numbers above the paltry 19 escorts the RN has today the updates to 8 T23’s might not have happened. The first batch of T26’s might well have had the VL Seawolf and 996 fitted, together with 2087… Read more »


Now that’s bad planning. We want the first to enter service in the year that the first current ship goes out of service. When has a large project like this ever gone to time, should the plan be “by at least” aiming for a year or two before.


Our Congress on the other hand seems determined to force more overgrown PT boats down the USN’s throat. What’s worse is they are not being funded with the sensors needed to make them even halfway useful… This is ridiculous and a waste of badly needed funds. Only way I can think of to make these ships useful in combat is to actually use them as overgrown torpedo boats hiding out among the little bits and pieces of land we control scattered throughout the WestPac – darting out to engage the enemy using sensor data relayed from all sources (F35, satellite,… Read more »

Anthony D

My view is the long term intent is additional t31 orders that will see a high end 6t45/8t26 centred around carrier battle groups and a similar number of low end t31/OPVs providing presence. It can’t be stated as the budget isn’t yet there.

Daniele Mandelli

Spot on IMO Anthony.


UK mod in fantaSy land cannot deliver core programed on time or budget fragmented building is the core problem and it adds costs hence mod black he adding cut to defence spending that’s added to forces problems at a time of high stress resurgent Russia China we si.ply not the capacity to even mount a Falkland type operation we so degraded

Lee H

Evening all This competition is a cultural change for MoD so don’t be surprised if there are few stumbles on the way. However don’t let that deter from the process by which a price point is being built in as a key user requirement. The main reason why Defence projects run late and then over cost is because everyone underestimates the complexity of what is being asked for and are too ambitious in their delivery timelines. Risk however sits with the customer – MoD and the taxpayer. By moving the risk to the supplier by making it a key user… Read more »


Evening Lee H
Could you expand on “no one really wants” .
Who may this include etc.
Because as you say they have a “credible platform” that appears to meet the requested specifications.
Cheers D

Lee H

Morning Don General consensus is that the Leander platform, whilst credible in its current form is taking an already designed and built platform and extending it, therefore making further growth (weapon systems and associated power) more difficult or more costly. When the MoD, specially the RN are looking at a platform they look at it over the whole life cycle of the system. So whilst credible in the short term it becomes challenging to fully justify it over its full life cycle. You only have to look at the T45 and T26 to see where platforms have been designed with… Read more »


Lee H-san 1: I think Leander is exactly what is needed/required as T31e. It perfectly matches T31e RFI. Yes it is a streched patrol ship, but it is built to NATO escort standard =not an OPV anymore. Yes it has not many growth margin, but it can be ADDED with CAPTAS2, hull sonar, canistered SSM, add guided rounds to their gun etc etc. I fear if there will be enough money to even fill these FTR equipments. If needed, using 2 of the 4 RHIB alcoves will give us plenty of margin. 2: Fixed price contract puts risk to company,… Read more »

Lee H

Hi Donald I will try and answer your points one by one All the weapon systems you have listed require power, power generation and its associated fuel burn have to be taken into account. Stability of platform has to be taken into account when you are adding more systems to the top of it. Those systems you discuss come with associated C2 systems. All of this adds weight, changes the profile of the ship and will result in redesign and test, basically taking a ship out of the fleet to test it all. I am worried the margin is not… Read more »


Can I ask why we are so concerned about growth margins? I thought the idea of the T31 was to use it for 15 years then replace in accordance with the NSS.

Lee H

Hi Rob

Sorry for delay in reply.
T31e will be a 25 yr platform, you cannot achieve full return on investment in a 15 year platform – that would also include one major refit, unless you were to sweat the asset to its extreme.
Growth is built in for the advances in technology. HMG will want more out of T31e that it is currently designed for.


Thanks Lee-san – I totally agree growth margin needs weight, CoG, power, CMS analysis power, and of course, more crew. So, I have no objecion on your points. – Equipments I listed are, either Fit-To-Recieve or shown by default in those promition images. I think this means the “weight, CoG, power, CMS, and crew” is already taken into account. At least FTR equipments are safe. – 4 RHIB (not 2) is a very special requirement. If with more crews, more room for new data-link, or even additional diesel-gen, I think we can happily use those spaces, just leaving 2 RHIB… Read more »

David Taylor

We shouldn’t be buying a frigate in this day and age with a displacement below 5000 tons.


The average cost of 250M GBP per hull is far below any of a proper light frigate. Excluding modification design and initial set-up cost, it means 200-220M GBP unit cost. This is less than 1/3 or that of a T26 units cost (which I guess is 650-750M GBP). Unit cost of FTI is 66% of French-FREMM. That of Japanese FFM is 66% of Akizuki DD. Surely T31e is in reality not a (proper) frigate. Somewhere in between (proper) light frigate (as FTI) and Survailance Frigate (as Floreal-class). So don’t mind, T31e is not a (proper) light frigate. Therefore, its small… Read more »


Lee-H-san On the risk issue. When Swan hunter was not able to build the Bay, BAES took over the contract. But, this does not mean BAES payed for the over price. I understand HMG payed for it. In the case of T31, it is fixed price contract. As we see what happend to K46 (B767 AAR), Boeing is paying every additional cost, because it is a fixed price contract. Boeing is not bunkrapting, because it is a big company. In T31 case, the prime is Cammell Laired or Babcock, not BAE nor MOT/Thales. So, if something similar to K46 happens,… Read more »

Lee H

Hi Donald I will try and answer in order: BAES took over final assembly and integration – cost was picked up by MoD. Taxpayer accepted cost overruns and got BAES to deliver capability (platform). Risk was therefore accepted by taxpayer and not company. In T31e, risk is with the company. Babcock shareholders will want to make sure that risk is as small as possible to get largest return on investment. K46 and US 767 tanker project in my view are total basket cases. CL and Babcock my be the primes but in CL case BAES have to take risk as… Read more »


Nice photo of the FSL at Newport Rhode Island Surface Warfare School: 180918-N-ZK021-0032 NEWPORT, R.I. (Sept. 18, 2018) Capt. Scott Robertson, commanding officer of Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS), right, provides Royal Navy First Sea Lord Adm. Sir Philip Jones, center left, an overview of the command during a visit to SWOS. Headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island, SWOS readies seabound Sailors to serve on surface combatants as officers, enlisted engineers, and enlisted navigation professional and oversees nine learning sites worldwide, to fulfill the Navy’s mission in maintaining global maritime superiority. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nardel… Read more »


RAN HMAS Hobart at Pearl.

comment image

180918-N-SF508-0031 PEARL HARBOR (Sept. 18, 2018) The Royal Australian Navy air warfare destroyer HMAS Hobart (DDG 39) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as part of the 100 Years of Mateship celebration between the United States and Australia. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first time U.S. and Australian troops fought side by side in an offensive action, at the Battle of Hamel on France’s Western Front during World War I. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki/Released)


Constancy of purpose! I like it!

David E Flandry

Oh for gosh sakes order six of the them. May former PM Brown be sufficiently damned for selling 3 T23s to Chile.

Paul T

David – that was Mr Blairs government but yes as chancellor Mr Brown might have had a lot to do with it,selling is a generous term though,they were sold very cheaply.

Mr J Young

I live near Wearside , where hundreds of vessels of various types were built.Please, please can someone get a #’/;.,;[ grip and get the ships built.


Babcocks are on the verge of closing Appledore so something had better happen soon.

David Taylor

If only Appledore was in Scotland.

Rolls Royce have wonderful 70m 1000 tonne OPV design that would cost peanuts to build just right for Appledore…………but not Scottish, so no money…….

A. Smith

The Leander design is too small and I can’t see how this design will replace the capabilities of the existing Type 23’s that will be decommissioned and the Type 26’s that will not be built. The Type 31e design will be the backbone of the Royal Navy and will need additional space for batteries, solid state weapons and fuel. BAE’s Leander design would need a considerable amount of automation to meet future needs within the size of their proposed hull and I can’t see them providing that for £250 million. I’d feel a lot happier if they swapped the 12… Read more »


two bidders 5 ships, why not 3 and 2