The Public Accounts Committee was recently informed by the Permanent Secretary for Defence that the first Type 31 Frigate will be in the water by 2023 and that the in-service date will be in 2027.
Earlier statements however indicated that the in-service date would be 2023.
According to the February 2020 update of the ‘Naval shipbuilding‘ research briefing in the House of Commons Library, the approved in-service date for the Type 31 frigates is now 2027, according to a letter written by the MOD’s Permanent Secretary to the chair of the Public Accounts Committee in January 2020.
The National Shipbuilding Strategy said the first vessel should be in service by 2023.
According to the research paper, when Babcock was selected as the preferred bidder in September 2019, the company said manufacture would commence in 2021 with the first ship “scheduled for launch in 2023”.
Noting the change in language, respected defence commentator Save the Royal Navy said in an article quoted in the research paper: “There is a big difference between the launch of the structurally complete hull and a fully functioning warship that is actually in service.”
If not for this work by Save The Royal Navy, this slippage might have gone unnoticed by most.
The research paper goes on to say:
“On 20 January 2020 the MOD informed the Public Accounts Committee the approved inservice date for the first ship is 2027: Evaluation of the Preferred Bidder’s schedule and deliverability assessment has confirmed that Ship 1 will be in the water in 2023, with all ships accepted off-contract by the end of 2028. The IAC [Investment Approvals Committee] has approved the InService Date of Ship 1 for May 2027.”
The Ministry of Defence also reportedly told the Commons Library “the competition we held demonstrated that no bidder could achieve a ship in the water before 2023” but suggested to the author that the in-service date could be earlier than 2027.