BAE Systems and Babcock International are expected to bid against each other for a £2bn contract for six Type 31 Frigates, according to The Times.
Recently it was reported that Babcock International was keen to challenge BAE System dominance and is interested in bidding for the £2Bn contract when it’s put out to tender.
It is understood that Rosyth is also seen as a potential site for assembly of the frigates but BAE is reportedly keen to win the work for its yards on the River Clyde in Glasgow according to The Times. Whoever wins, the vessel is set to be assembled in Scotland.
The £2bn contract suggests a cost per ship of around £330m.
The Royal Navy order book in Scotland stands at 5 Offshore Patrol vessels, 8 Type 26 Frigates and assemble an increased figure of 6 Type 31 Frigates, an increase over what was previously promised.
Work on building eight Type 26 frigates at Clyde shipyards will begin next month, after the five Offshore Patrol Vessels are finished.
The number was originally understood to be “at least five” according to David Cameron, Prime Minister at the last defence review:
“There will be eight of the Type 26s and at least another five of the new type of frigate, probably more, and they can be built in Scotland if the conditions are right. The only way these ships wouldn’t be built in Scotland is if Scotland was independent and didn’t have the national resources of the Royal Navy.”
Mr Cameron also told the Commons after the defence review that the new class of frigates would be “more affordable than the Type 26 which will allow us to buy more of them for the Royal Navy so that by the 2030s we can further increase the total number of Royal Navy frigates and destroyers.”
The build plan for the Type 31 Frigates is expected to follow a similar pattern to that of the Queen Elizabeth carriers and early Type 45 Destroyers in that blocks will be built in yards around the UK and assembled on the Clyde.
Modern shipbuilding makes considerable use of prefabricated sections. Entire multi-deck segments of the hull may be built elsewhere around the UK, transported to the building dock or slipway, then lifted into place and assembled into one ship. This is known as block construction and is far more cost effective.
Yards pre-install equipment, pipes, electrical cables and any other components within the blocks, to minimise the effort needed to assemble or install components deep within the hull once it is welded together.
We spoke to John Carmichael, who works at the Govan yard as a welder, about the possibility of the Clyde assembling parts of the new frigate:
“It’s no secret we’ll be getting the frigate work, we’re already gearing up for the Type 26 after the Rivers and Type 31s after the Type 26s.“
An independent report into the National Shipbuilding Strategy by Sir John Parker has also recommended that the Type 31 Frigate build be spread across the UK, with blocks being constructed in yards in both Scotland and England.
The National Shipbuilding Strategy is intended to be a radical, fundamental re-appraisal of shipbuilding in the UK works, intending to place UK naval shipbuilding on a sustainable long term footing. It is expected that it will be published next month.