Stuart Andrew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence Procurement, released a written statement on the three contracts for the Competitive Design Phase for the Type 31e Frigate.

The statement follows.

I am pleased to inform the House that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has taken a major step forward in the competition to build five Type 31e Frigates.

On 10 December 2018 the MOD awarded three contracts for the Competitive Design Phase. The contracts have been awarded to consortia led by BAE Systems, Babcock and Atlas Elektronik UK and are valued at up to £5 million each.

The Competitive Design Phase is the first stage of the design process which will allow suppliers to demonstrate how they can deliver the Royal Navy’s threshold capability by the target date and within budget. These contracts will fund industry to prepare detailed proposals for the design and build of the five Type 31e Frigates.

Concurrent with the award of the Competitive Design Phase contracts, the MOD has issued to each consortium an Invitation to Negotiate for the single Design and Build contract that we intend to place by the end of 2019. Conducting the Competitive Design Phase in parallel with the Design and Build contract negotiations will allow the award of the Design and Build contract earlier than would be normally be the case in a major procurement.

It remains our intention to seek a firm price contract for five ships, less an amount of Government Furnished Equipment, for £1.25 Billion, giving an average price of £250 million per ship. We want the first ship in 2023, with all five ships delivered by the end of 2028. The Government remains committed to a surface fleet of at least 19 frigates and destroyers.

This contractual milestone is a tangible and positive result of the National Shipbuilding Strategy published in September 2017. The Strategy sets out how the Government intends to work with industry to develop a strong and globally competitive UK shipbuilding and marine engineering sector. The Type 31e procurement is seeking to maximise the UK prosperity and export potential, without compromising on cost and time.

The award of the Competitive Design Phase contracts is a testament to the MOD’s positive engagement with industry and the commitment to move the programme forward.”

55 COMMENTS

  1. Look, There’s that “At least 19 ships ” again. It disappeared for a while but nice to see it back. At least 40 ships would be better.

    • Definitely. Also nice to see the explicit mention of Government Furnished Equipment reducing the cost burden on the bidders (at least that’s how I read it). I wonder how that will work in practice. I think someone here explained a while back that GFE stuff isn’t cost-free, there tends to be costs for the original supplier to refurbish it after removal from wherever it was harvested from and re-certifying it as in good working order and then there are obviously installation and integration costs to put it into the new host vessel. Will the refurb and re-certify work be funded by the MoD from some budget other than the £1.25bn and the winning consortium then be expected to fund only the integration costs from their £250m per ship? That would certainly seem logical to me.

    • I’d love to see 40 ships back in the fleet. I’d happily settle for 25, however, and an increase in Astute subs from 7 to 10.

      Especially if the T45s and T26s continue to not have any offensive weapons against land or ships. I’m fine with those tasks being left to subs and F35s, if we had more of both.

    • Hi Captain
      I would be happy with what the defence select committee and admiralty state is the minimum required. At least 26 frigates and destroyers.
      That covers all current peacetime commitments to NATO deployments, protection of our EEZ and deployments overseas in peace keeping, showing the flag, defence diplomacy, training etc.
      If anyone in HMG reads this site
      “At least 26 please”

    • i find the phrase ‘at least 19 ships’ to be the main problem, acceptance of this puts a doubt on future fleet expansion ‘i’d have been happier of the number 30.

    • one look at the plans for expansion shown by the likes of india,shows nation wth ambition, a clear of what they want and going out and doing it, in, short, everything we do not.

  2. Come to think of it, there is a lot of ways that the GFE stuff could affect what can be got for the £250m per vessel. Radar seems pretty simple, as does 30mm, but even Sea Ceptor (SC) has some variables. Upgraded T23 will have 32 each to donate but each T26 needs 48. Who gets first call on T23 SC? If it’s T26 then those 8 ships will harvest all of the SC from m 12 of the T23 stock leaving only a single T23 to donate 32 SC to the entire T31 program.

    The other big one is the main gun, will the 4.5” be harvested from T23 or not? Presumably there, if my guess on funding GFE is correct, there would need to be consultation with the MoD about whether HMG was even willing to make the 4.5” guns available since, in doing so, it would incur removal and refurbishment costs whereas the winning bidder going off and purchasing new units of whatever main gun is chosen direct from the manufacturer would not.

  3. Julian, I am not as optimistic as you on the GFE part of the contract. I reckon that the £1.25b is intended to cover the whole contract, and as we know GFE has a cost. Either way the proposal is asking for a lot of ship for not very much money. I have two concerns. Firstly we wind up with a frigate sized ship with an OPV weapon fit, everyone in the Navy will know that they have been short changed, but the politicians will merely point at the numbers and preen themselves. And secondly, don’t forget the small “e” in the Type designation. The national shipbuilding strategy two years ago specifically stated that these ships could be sold off the production line should a suitable buyer emerge. If that happens what price maintaining only 19 ships, much less increasing numbers, however much they are needed and we all want them?

    • the M.O.D should come clean and ‘firm up the plan for the class, how many?, what specs, programme cost and a clear commitment to carry out the project and not allow it to whither away without promises are fulfilled and the fleet expanded over the 25 ship mark

  4. Just a quick aside on your second post, Julian, I thought that the MOD intends to standardise on the 5” as the main gun for FF/DD. This surely means that the current 4.5” will eventually be scrapped. If they are going to give the T31 a 5”, great, but I am not holding my breath.

    • Given the T31 is more likely to be in littoral waters than the T26, it would make sense for it to have the 5” guns that the T26 are getting. Can’t see it happening though – added expense when T23 4.5” mounts are available. So T31 with 4.5” is possible, but aren’t they manpower intensive?
      Also, if the T23s have any resale value, wouldn’t we want to sell them with the guns? Genuinely not sure on that one.
      Incidentally on the manpower side – Leander seems to require 20 more crew than Babcock’s offering. Might tip the scales in favour of the Arrowhead (or the Atlas offering)

    • i’d like to see a comitment to a searam system it is even fitted to corvettes, most noticably the braunschweig class of the german navy

    • i wish open up and say exactly what its capabilities will be,the standard M.O.D drip feed of information isn’t good enough in the light of what other nations are doing to increase fleet sizes.

  5. That reads as GFM is not in the price.
    The integration will be at the shipbuilders cost but the capital cost of buying a radar to fit onboard will not be in the cost.
    In that case it will be a weapons fit similar to a T23 then.

    • I was a bit confused about the exact wording there, and a bit more sceptical about what it means. I bow to your greater knowledge of these things though, and happy to be corrected- better result!

      • They will probably spin it anyway. It was grey and wooly enough to be read two ways. This week I am feeling glass half full so I will look on the bright side!

  6. You know….a small but good Christmas present, and mote to the point a sign of commitment would be the M O D saying “the first of six ships to be ordered this time” etc etc.

  7. Seems to be picking up momentum. Mr Williamson has certsinly been a more enthusiastic defence secretary than all the event ones, although I have the impression he wants to do more he is being stifled by the treasury. I’m curious as to what the Atlas E bid entails. Finally I hope this does not come too late for Appledore, although yard is closed, it is still complete and for sale by Babcock.

  8. Now I’m concerned about suppliers being able to guarantee to maintain their costs from 2023 -2028! Surely, there must be provisions to increase prices if there are unexpected economic downturns? At 250 Million a ship, it appears there is little meat on the bone for cost fluctuations, making these vessels somewhat unpalatable programmes to be involved with?
    The outcome could be denuded ships with a phased upgrading once in service?

  9. Well I’m guessing the T23’s will be sold to the usual buyers of RN Ships, so how much “Harvesting” of weapons and other equipment, might depend on those future Sales. I believe that HMS Ocean had her Phalanx systems removed prior to her sale to Brazil.

    • I don’t see all 13 being sold and the recent refits have been so extensive and expensive the government is bound to want to recoup as much money from them as possible. Radar, IRST, Decoy, Torpedo launchers, Sonar, 4.5′ main gun and the 30mm remote guns (at least I think they have been replaced with remote recently) are all likely to be refurbished and reused.

  10. Just a point on GFE yes there would be costs to taking anything from 23’s and installing them in 31e’s. But there would also be disposal costs if they were discarded. In net terms it would be a marginal cost. All in all we’re going to get ships with a lot more capability than the £250m would suggest. Be happy everyone.

  11. As long as something ‘high end enough’ gets built.

    There’s simply no point building a frigate that cannot be put in harm’s way in a peer shooting war.

    With only 19 units, all the available ones need to be very capable.

    Option one, find the money and build 5 more T26

    Option two, build a cheaper, though capable general frigate, but build more of them, 8 to10 would be the Ideal.

    Employ and retain enough people to actually deploy the above!

  12. I think the remaining t23 will be worn out by the time they go, doubtful that any buyers will be found, likewise who ever is producing the t31 will be pushing to sell the design as a t23 replacement and targeting the likes of Brazil or Romaninia. Yes Ocean had her phalanx removed, part of the original export agreement with US.

    • “Worn Out” by RN standards maybe but HMS Ocean will have a nice long life in Brazil, as have so many others, Leander’s, T21’s, T22’s Hermes to name a few.

      • the pakistani navy is only just retiring its type 21’s they if upgraded and with structural defects addressed would, given where modern conflicts occuring, have been an ideal vessel to still be in the navy list.

  13. You can have it fast, you can have it good or you can have it cheap,pick two,because you can’t have all three-notice seen in workshops everywhere.

  14. With the announcement that Australia and Canada purchase of Type 26 design will save £1.1billion in development costs, cannot some of these unplanned savings be moved to T31e budget to increase quality and quantity?

  15. You have a point Pugwash, however I think the demands and technology awareness of foriegn nations is rising. Warships designed to operate in the hostile north Atlantic against a high end technical enemy will be effective for a far shorter period than those operating in calmer areas at a lesser operational tempo. However, Brazil has been severely burnt with the condition and operating issues around the ex Foch, Hermes really struggled for the last decade, only tenable with the huge manpower India could call on, it’s also worth noting the significant attrition rate of their Sea Harriers limited her capability. Ocean was an interesting case. She was built to commercial standards with a hull life of 15 years. She was worked very hard and lasted 18 years, however she has mechanically knackered, she required a major hull survey for which she would not have passed, thus millions would be spent to extend her a maximum of five years. The cost of her extension would have been in the region of her build price. It will be interesting to see how much time she will spend operational with Brazil? I wouldn’t be surprised if it is only a few years before a new build replacement appears.

    • Well Wads
      I don’t like the look of that model.
      They must of found a school kid to paint it ;P

      Is it me or does it look rather too compact? Maybe its my eyes

  16. It will be interesting to see what the atlas Elektronik bid is as I can’t see the Meko providing a uk export opportunity which was supposedly one of the main aims? As steller systems are a design house only, could this design be an outside chance? The same issue could be levelled at my preferred design of arrowhead 140 (mainly on size and that the hull has been stress tested etc.) but the website still seems to be down for 140, so I wonder if they may revert to arrowhead 120 or perhaps even venator? The main thing is that they are reasonably capable ships and we get plenty built as well. Although very optimistic due to the export success of t26 I would like to if some more funding can be found for 2 more or perhaps especially due to manpower issues invested in t45 upgrade or more t31s. In terms of gfe I would like to think probably naively that the slow build of t26 may give the opportunity for new weapons fit and even perhaps a more advanced radar, camm-er would be nice as well! Therefore hopefully in the main the type 31 fingers crossed 10 could simply get the type 23 equipment except maybe the towed array

  17. Hello and Good Evening

    If the MOD \ GOV are considering Atlas Elektronik UK then why have we not seen any website mention or design from Atlas Elektronik UK before?

    Even Stellar Systems effort SPARTAN was putting effort in over the last year or so

    Come on Atlas Elektronik UK show us what you have hiding !

    John

  18. Good update!

    Just one side note, I thought the consortia was both a Cammell-Laird and BAE Systems bid, not just a BAE Systems bid. Is list the new updated candidates sans Cammell-Laird?

  19. John, I still think SPARTAN should base their design on the current T23 hullform and redesign its internal layout to more modern standards.

    Gunbusters has told us the T23 is still a great ASW frigate, so why not build new but so it looks like the spartan design we would all recognise, should also cut a load of costs out of the design as surely we already own the hull form design.

    The hull itself is the correct size and weight, it just needs to be updated.

  20. Good grief, this is painfully slow progress. Only 5 & no plan to raise escort numbers whilst becoming a 2 carrier navy. Russia, China & whoever else feels like chancing it won’t be particularly perturbed by our conventional weakness. We’ll continue to talk big but carry matchsticks.

    Sick how crossrail can buldoze through budgets & delivery schedules, HS2 ploughs on regardless, but our defence forces are starved of real investment.

  21. Interestingly, in the last episode of Warship, HMS Duncan was not shadowed by the Russians because they knew that they had no TLAM (mentioned on the bridge – not my analysis), preferring instead to monitor the US Burke Class.

    If we really are going to have £1bn warships, they really do need to be good. The T45 need Mk41 and also I would replace the Aster 15 with Seaceptor and quad pack into 16 of the Sylver, leaving 32 for Aster 30/NT.

    Great work by the crew, but ultimately I would be nervous going into a war zone with only 48 air defence missiles and a 5″ gun..

    For the T31 I think a 76mm is more than good enough, as is 24 VLS (preferably Mk41 but unlikely)

  22. I have to say the surprise contender the Atlas A200 has my vote,its AS quiet,has provision for the kingklip sonar,can take the 32 cell sea septer cells from Type23 forward as well as up to 5″ gun so we could fit the 4.5″ off type 23 as well.It’s meets the target tonnage and length requirements and has many other good design features,its also in service so has some credibility.As its a German design there are issues on intellectual rights but if this can be resolved it would be a good choice.

    • Just been reading up on the Atlas A200 you mentioned

      Technical Data
      Main dimensions

      Length o.a.
      121.0 m
      Beam max.
      16.3 m
      Draught
      4.4 m
      Displacement (approx.)
      3,700 t
      Speed max.
      >29 kn
      Range
      7,200 nm/16 kn

      Propulsion plant
      CODAG WARP
      2 x CPP + 1 x water jet
      CODAG (COmbined Diesel And Gas)
      2 x MTU 16V 1163 TB93
      WARP
      1 x GE LM 2500 GT

      Complement
      Crew
      100-120
      Supernumerary
      50

      Weapons
      127 or 76 mm Main Gun 1
      30 – 40 mm Secondary Guns 2
      12.7 – 20 mm Cannons 2
      Surface to Surface Missiles 8
      Surface to Air Missile VL Cells 32
      ASW Torpedo Tubes 2
      Sea Mines

      Aircraft
      5 t helicopters 2
      UAVs 2

      Sensors
      S-Band Navigation 1
      X-Band Navigation 1
      Helicopter Control Radar 1
      3D Surveillance/Targeting Radar 1
      Fire Control Radars 2
      Electro-Optical Tracker 1
      Hull Mounted Sonar 1
      Towed Array Sonar 1
      Anti-Diver Sonar 1
      ESM System 1

      Countermeasures

      Torpedo Decoy Launchers 2
      EM/IR Decoy Launchers 2

    • Would no one else find it ironic that, were we to go for a Meko 200 derivative for the frigate that is in effect replacing some of our T26 (as in substituting for the originally planned vessels 9 through 13 in the T26 program not being built), we would be choosing an A200-derived design for the T26 replacements when the Australians are about to replace their A200-derived design with T26 (Anzac to Hunter replacement).

      Presumably for the RAN it’s down to service life of existing Anzac class and needing to release the crew for the next generation, as well as decent funding allowing them to increase capability, but I do still find that mirror symmetry somewhat ironic (and depressing) but I guess we are where we are all because of funding. It emphasises to me that, in return for dropping vessels 9 through 13 from T26 spec to T31 spec (whatever that ends up being), it really will feel like a betrayal to me if the T31 program stalls at only 5 vessels built. I might begin to feel OK with the trade off at 8 T31 but 6 would feel like a cynical ploy to do as little as possible to claim growth in numbers.

  23. A200 seems like a extended OPV, then a frigate! Much shorter then type-23 of about 134m. Some capability has to give here!

    • Which is what the MOD spec is asking for in reality,the Leander is a stretched corvette and the Arowhead is simply to big almost the size of a Type 26 but more importantly not a good AS platform.

      • Depends, if in future sub hunting is done with AUVs you just need a something to be the mothership. The T31 is not supposed to be an ASW platform, the point of the project is to have a high low mix. With less expensive assents available for more mundane tasks.

        With automation moving forward at pace perhaps the best attribute the T31 could have is space and power to incorporate new technologies with no or minimum conversion cost.

        • Nobody would be buying into expensive hulls if that technology was around the corner, its defiantly going to add to current capability but its not a substitute.Type 31 is all about money or lack of it.

  24. the thai navy has mounted a 76mm (3 inch) gun, on to their river class, derivative krabi and termed it as a light frigate doing it to our own batch 2 rivers, giving them anti submarine capability, those rivers could be easily termed ‘corvette’ or light frigate.exportwise the rivers have been a great success being used to provide ‘rivers’ for thailand,brazil,oman with other nations reputed to be interested’ arming the rivers’ to the level of say a sigma 105144 CORVETTE(same size as a river fitted with a 76mm oto melara gun, two triple, torpedo launchers exocet, and two quad anti air missile launchers! converting our rivers to those specs (calling them light frigates would on paper increase the fleet by some NINE ships. of course modifications to the design,such as hull integrity, power,a larger crew,magazine,
    magazines, would be needed, but easily affordable the 9 rivers could be converted for less than the cost of a t31e.

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