SHARE

The National Shipbuilding Strategy reveals that the government are to buy at least five Type 31 Frigates, and share the construction between shipyards around the UK.

The Type 31 Frigate is expected to be cheaper than Type 26 with a fixed price of £250m to encourage exports.

The first ship is expected to be delivered in 2023 and designed to be replaced at the end of their life instead of frequent refits and upgrades.

As part of the new approach, it was announced that the five Type 31 frigates could be built across different shipyards, before being assembled at a central site believed to be either the Clyde or Rosyth with the former being the favourite if capacity allows.

The Clyde yards are currently working on five Offshore Patrol Vessels and has started working on the first batch of eight Type 26 Frigates, leaving the question of spare capacity. Will there actually be space to assemble Type 31?

We spoke to a source intimately involved with shipbuilding in Glasgow regarding the practicality of building the Type 31 on the Clyde and he told us:

“I think it’s the obvious answer from an industrial point of view but the question is capacity.

There isn’t any at Govan while T26 is in build so there needs to be a new assembly hall built at Scotstoun.”

Sir Michael Fallon said the first of the new ships are due to be in service by 2023 and shipyards would be encouraged to ensure the vessel was competitive on the global market by working with “global partners”. He said:

“This new approach will lead to more cutting-edge ships for the growing Royal Navy that will be designed to maximise exports and be attractive to navies around the world.”

Nia Griffith MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, responding to the publication of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, said:

“I welcome the publication of the National Shipbuilding Strategy and the commitment to the long-term future of our shipbuilding industry. But as well as investing in our naval fleet, we must also invest in the men and women who serve in our Royal Navy.

Despite warnings over many years, our Navy is facing a crisis in recruitment and retention. The Government is on course to miss its own target for the size of the Navy and we simply do not have enough sailors to crew our naval fleet.

Experienced personnel are leaving the Navy because of dissatisfaction with pay and conditions. If the Government was serious about properly resourcing our Royal Navy it would lift the public sector pay cap and pay our servicemen and women properly.”

It is understood that Rosyth is also seen as a potential site for assembly of the frigates but BAE is reportedly keen to retain 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 we’re told. We spoke to another source earlier in the year who works at the Govan yard as a welder and wishes to remain unnamed, 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.

Scottish National Party defence spokesman Stewart McDonald said:

“It is all about squeezing costs to the bone and cutting corners, and still leaves real uncertainties for the future for workers at Scottish shipyards and the communities that depend on them.”

Gary Cook, Scotland organiser for the GMB, said:

“Let’s be clear that the Type 31 contracts were originally promised to the Upper Clyde, so while shipbuilding communities across the UK would benefit from a work-share programme of the Type 31 work, this will be at the expense of the Upper Clyde despite its own future already being secured until the 2030s.”

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.

68 COMMENTS

  1. So no mention of a super efficient frigate factory on the Clyde!

    Another pipedream flushed down the toilet of history.

    I consider spreading the work around the UK a good idea, I also hope BAE is a minor player in the T31 programme.

    • I didn’t vote for him/labour but to be fair to Jeremy I do remember him saying on more than one occasion that the RN needs more ships and the RAF more jets.

      • Very interesting, what type of ships or jets did he specify?

        What is his position on the F35 combat aircraft, protector UAS or type 26 frigates for example.

        • I don’t remember him specifying anything, he just answered a question about Labour’s perceived weakness on defence matters compared to the Tories. He replied saying that the Tories were weak and that the RAF and RN were crying out for more equipment. I would assume though that the cancellation of the CASD would pay for this!

          • Rob, If you think that a statement from Corbyn deflecting criticism of him onto the Conservatives is a demonstration of HIS commitment to the armed forces, indeed an expression of his intent to expand the Navy and Air Force, you are a sucker.

  2. Watching Fallon on the BBC this morning, talking about how these would go to “expand the Royal Navy”, I thought “if only this interview was with someone like Andrew Neil” who could ask the questions that need asking, such as “how can a like for like replacement of hulls be ‘expanding’ the Royal Navy?”, or “is it improving the Navy’s capability by removing our only specifically designed helicopter assault ship without replacement and expecting our brand new strike carriers, which aren’t designed for that role, to do the job of dropping assault troops in from coastal waters?”

  3. The sainted Jeremy Corbyn said this in 2010 at a stop the war meeting.

    ‘Join every campaign. Fight all the cuts except those in the Armed Forces. Where we want to see a few more cuts taking place and no more nuclear weapons.’

    If he has changed his mind when and where did this happen?

    People can make up their own minds if the trust a potential Corbyn led government can be trusted with defence of the country.

    • So let me get this right, in 2010 a conservative government is making savage cuts to the country and it’s armed forces, at the same time a labour backbencher is in a park saying stop all the cuts to public services but not the armed forces.

      What’s the difference Mike? Is it because in your mind a Tory is aloud to make the actual cuts, but a labour MP calling for cuts is worse. What about the tories who made those cuts? Have they changed their minds on defence? Where did this happen?

      Let’s not turn this thread into a Labour vs Tory battle please, especially with you at the wheel because you’re consistently not only a complete negative vibe merchant who can’t see the good in anyone’s comments or ideas, but your debating skills are p**s poor at best.

      People are already making their own minds up and the majority (thankfully) won’t be using a Daily Fail smear to make their judgement for them.

      • The evidence of Corbyn’s comments is available on YouTube.

        When did change his mind about defence cuts?

        The Labour party manifesto of 2010 pledged defence cuts of 8%, so both main parties were in some way going to cut defence expediture.

        If you are unable to answer the question I asked, then just move along and leave to the adults to discuss.

        • I never questioned his comments, it was 2010 Mike, nearly every politician was calling for cuts. Yet you only want to single out one person.

          He probably changed his mind the same time as everyone else who called for cuts and who actually made the cuts, when the economy returned to growth.

          He is on record this year saying he would fund more ships, more aircraft, more police etc.

          http://www.forces.net/news/corbyn-military-needs-more-ships-aircraft-funding-personnel

          So I think that answers your question.

          “Leave to the adults to discuss”

          Mike you’re a painful negative poster, you never have anything good to say about our armed forces, it’s always we can’t do this, can’t do that, can’t afford this, you mostly reply to people’s posts with one sentence cryptic sentences, you’re not contributing or debating in an adult way.

          So yeah I’ll leave you to carry on discussing like an adult 👍

          • So the truth is a smear against Corbyn, how interesting the way the English language is corrupted by some.

            So Corbyn wants more ships more aircraft.

            What type of ships and aircraft?

            Or is it another off the cuff remark, like dealing with student debt, that has no value or meaning.

          • When a 20 second clip gets realeased with absolutely no context to the quote offered, that’s a smear in mine and many people’s eyes.

            Oh so he had to name the ships and aircraft now does he, strange how that request doesn’t apply to anyone else, I can hardly imagine Maybot telling us what kind of frigates she prefers. Come one mate, be a tad realistic in what you’re demanding.

            It’s funny how not one student I have spoken to has that opinion, all they see (if you watch the interview that is) is someone genuinely saying they would like to do something about student debt.

            Keep trying mate.

          • We all know what Corbyn thinks regarding the UK armed forces he has spent a lifetime undermining them at every opportunity.

            I know the truth hurts, but best to accept what Corbyn actually is pacifist who given the reins of power would decimate our already weak defence capability.

            Now try and answer the question I asked, What type of ships and aircraft is a corbyn led government going to order?

          • No Mike, we don’t “all know” 13 million people had a different view.

            So he would take 1 in 10 out of everything? Because that’s what decimate means, I thought it was me that was “corrupting the English language” think you’ve been watching too much American tv mate.

            Are you seriously wanting an answer to that question. There isn’t an answer Mike because he hasnt gave one. That’s doesn’t make what he says anything less genuine. He’s not an expert on defence procurement Mike. Do you think Maybot phones Baldwin and tells her what kit to order.

            I thought you were an adult Mike what you’re asking is ridiculous.

          • Kieren C – You are being somewhat ‘selective’ in your comment over the word ‘decimate’:
            Decimate
            verb
            1.
            kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of.
            “the inhabitants of the country had been decimated”
            2.
            historical use:
            kill one in every ten of (a group of people, originally a mutinous Roman legion) as a punishment for the whole group.

            So you selectively chose the historical not the current meaning of the word.

          • Kieran C – You said:
            “No Mike, we don’t “all know” 13 million people had a different view”
            Well they may have thought they did. A few million Students are now wondering what that Labour ‘view’ now is. As do millions of returning Brexit Labour voters who are certainly wondering what that Labour ‘view’ now is. Corbyn has also shown his vicious manipulative side in Scotland and the fact people were running from the chance of the Top Job there makes the point about how this Marxist moron operates.

            As for Defence a man who suggests in a serious interview that we should put Trident submarines to sea without any Trident missiles really has either lost the plot or never found it in the first place. Plus of course he has said he wasn’t sure he would actually press the nuclear button. Not surprising for a pacifist member of CND. Unlike TM who, when openly challenged in PMQs, fired back faster than a Trident “I am happy to confirm to the Honourable Gentleman ‘YES I WOULD”

          • Haha I as waiting for your comment on this Chris, I knew you couldn’t resist.

            Yeah fair point although it is quite a new definition only cemented through constant misuse of the word.

            And according to the latest round of polls labour are still ahead in the majority of them, even increasing their lead in some, honestly mate just because the Sun and Daily Mail have front page splashes calling him this and that, that isn’t a reflection of public opinion no matter how much you want it to be.

            Also looking at polls public opinion is swinging towards a soft Brexit which is what Labour are trying to achieve, and besides the general election just proved that there are more important things voters care about than Brexit, it’s not the be all and all.

            “vicious manipulative side in Scotland”

            Come on Chris, you really let yourself down when your hatred of a person takes over your rational thinking.

            And I would rather have a person who would think about it, I know it’s a hard concept for some of the more mentally challenged in our society to understand, but “pushing a button” and ordering the incineration of millions of innocent men, women and children is not something that should ever be taken lightly. And it being used as a way to grandstand with whoops and cheers from her colleagues behind just gives us the measure of what kind of moronic politician she is. She will be remembered as one of the worst conservative leaders in history, that is guaranteed.

    • If nuclear war breaks out, the nuclear deterrent has failed. It is supposed to prevent wars, not be used to bring millions of innocent people down with you. Of course I would rather have him say he would, that makes a deterrent actually a deterrent, but there is nothing wrong with that philosophy. What will blowing everything up achieve anyway?

      • Stop making sensible informed and rational points. Remember, f you support the nuclear deterrent, you are hungry for a nuclear holocaust and begging for war.

  4. I really hope the NSS doesn’t forget about the huge amount of smaller vessels the Navy/Border force/Coastguard/RNLI need.

    I believe the RN can move to an Escort heavy structure (40 escorts – 15 T26, 25 T31) if we get our small vessel strategy spot on.

    50 Safeboats Mk6 (or UK designed equivalent – same for rest)
    100 CB90’s
    200 RHIBS
    100 Atlas Arcims MCM
    50 Atlas transport and general use boats.
    Landing craft
    Ship to Shore hovercraft

    There is a lot of value in this fleet – not just for the RN but for export purposes. The safe boats in particular seem quite capable for the money (c.£6m) and could give the RN an asymmetric capable that it will surely need in the future, as we move to a strategy that we can actually fund properly.

    On T31 at a fixed £250m surely we should be ordering 8

    • In your opinion what is the cost of your proposal and how will it be funded?

      Because it’s not costed and funded it’s just a case of wishful thinking.

      • Safeboat MK6- NO!… I have worked on the things and they are not worth the time, effort or money…
        CB90s…NO…again I have worked on them and they are not worth the time effort or money …

  5. 250 million a ship, would be good if they stay at that cost.

    I was expecting more than 5, just a modest increase would of been fine I think and realistically doable but I suppose the insecurity over Brexit means at the moment we should really be thankful nothing is getting cancelled.

    The aim is to grow the fleet by the 2030’s apparently, would that mean a bigger destroyer fleet then possibly?

    • Brexit is a convenient excuse for Boy George’s smoke and mirrors ‘efficiency savings’ that weren’t possible from 2010 SDSR coming home to roost.

      Believing anything either party says right now on defence is just wilful negligence.

      • Yeah true Ian, it’s just that’s all we have to go on really, an idea to increase numbers in the 2030’s.

        There is no reason that if the right decisions are made in the next 5 to 10 years, the right investment and the right Brexit deal and some shrewd new trade deals we can’t have very strong growth, only then can we realistically expect more numbers I feel.

        But going by the last 30 years it’s hard to see.

        • UK Industrial strategy should be the greatest hedge against Brexit risk but Govt is going to fiddle.

          NSS could have been a great example of long term Govt strategic thinking and really rebuilding two national capabilities (yards & RN) but a total fail.

          Will be the same across the board – no clue (either party – sorry 😉

          • Well going off the talk on twitter and the news there is no commitment to use British steel in the NSS either which is a shame.

            No it’s fine mate I totally agree, labour have been as guilty as anyone. I think nearly every government since the war is complicit in the state we are in now.

  6. The Khareef corvettes were £133m each. Ten years later we have set a price of £250m for the T31. I bet they end up very similar in displacement and armament. Might not be so bad if we had a few more T26s and didn’t pay for the River 2s.

    • The Khareef corvettes were armed with a 76mm gun and Exocet missiles, neither of which we have in our armoury. Our current track record suggests that we won’t arm these vessels properly and they will be little more than OPV+. I hope I’m wrong

  7. £250m a ship looks an incredibly ambitious target for a Frigate. It is hard to see how the Non Recurring Engineering costs can be amortised across only five hulls. However, elements of the Combat System could be cross decked from the Type 23s as they are paid off – Sea Ceptor, 997 radar, 30mm guns etc. But then the export version would be a lot more expensive.

    • Maybe the export variants would have lower spec armament. Lets hope they will be credible, I suspect they will be closer to what we would consider a Corvette to be though.

    • Agree, £250m is little less than astonishing. Either there is some very creative accounting going on or we are eating into core capabilities like the 5in gun.

  8. Still woefully short in hulls and you have to concerned re capability. If they are fit for purpose you need to double to 10 as a min number and look at further increases. If BAE keep supplying expensive boats then who else is selling ?

  9. The Babcock offering is the one to watch. With their experience of Type 23 refits they must have a deep understanding of what the RN want and a good idea of what it would cost ( for them) to make it.

  10. No hints on what design they will go for and we already knew the “at least 5” from the last SDSR so what is the new information? Confirmation of modular build but that was pretty widely predicted already.

    The first ship to be delivered in 2023 does confirm parallel builds alongside T26 builds. Some had feared the government would push T31 out so far that it would start after the final T26 and result in a temporary drop in frigate numbers so, government delays and u-turns notwithstanding, at least we seem to have dodged that bullet. To me that seems to be the biggest news in this announcement.

    Stating a £250m per ship budget is also solidifying some guesswork but with a £2bn budget and guessing 6 ships plus design costs I think that is probably what most people were expecting, or maybe £300m so perhaps the £250m per ship is a bit disappointing. It also means pretty much nothing without knowing weapons and other systems fit and how much might be fitter for-but-not-with.

    I suppose £250 places a limit on capabilities. Maybe we can work up from the River Batch 2s at £116m each in 2013 prices including spares and support (for how long?). Is the £250m unit cost intended to be inclusive of a similar spares & support package? The 3 Omani Khareef class were £400m including a training package but with the first launched in 2009 it was probably about 2005 when that order was placed (does anyone know that date?) so a lot of inflation since then. So all in all maybe we’re looking at something like a River Batch 2 with another £100m of budget added for size increase and extra onboard systems. I’m not saying that means a BAE design, just using River as the start point in size and systems since we sort of know what the UK has paid for those. If it’s done efficiently that extra £100m per vessel might be enough to add a fair amount but there are just so many questions left. Will the T31s need to pay for their radars out of the £250m or are all the T23s getting Artisan from a separate budget that can then be cross-decked to the first 5 T31? Same question for Sea Ceptor.

    Still way more questions than answers. This is the smallest soupcon of extra info.

    • Artisan and Sea Ceptor is bing fitted to all 13 type 23s and we bought another 3 sets of equipment to ensure ships didn’t need to become donors early in the build and drop numbers. There was no mention of what the 3 extra sets included but logic would indicate it was radar and or missiles, small guns. That being the case £100 million extra per hull could be enough to beef up the size include a hanger for Wildcat, a 5 inch gun and 1/2 8 cell MK41 VLS . There should even be 5 Type 2050 hull mounted sonars left from the Type 23s. £250 million seems cheap but almost all the weapons and sensors won’t come out of that amount so it could be enough. However that was also the idea with Type 26 and we still ended up with a ship costing about £850 million so I am not holding my breath.

  11. Great idea starting to implement the NSS as recommended and lets see all our Naval ships built this way and keep the economic benefits here in the UK. But why the built in ‘Scotland’ fault line:
    Why assemble them in Scotland?
    Why the assumption that it means “there needs to be a new assembly hall built at Scotstoun.”?
    Why not assemble them in Portsmouth where there IS an assembly hall?
    Why the bending over to SNP blackmail?

    Reality check for Scotland:
    You were ‘promised’ Frigates. You are building all our Type 26. You had OPVs to keep you busy. You had the lion’s share of 2 carriers. Be grateful. The rest of the UK has had the square root of sod all final assembly work while the Clyde has been wrapped in financial cotton wool. Time for the rUK to have some better times.

    Oh and Ms Sturgeon – Go shove your politics of blame and envy

    • Yeah. All this whining about only getting 2 carriers, 5 OPV, 8 destroyers in all but name (T26) and then final assembly and probably some modules of at least 5 frigates, and all that when Portsmouth shipyard got closed completely with the loss of 1,800 jobs. I don’t think it’s worth wasting effort on any response beyond just saying “Portsmouth” back to these ingrates whenever they complain.

  12. 6 Type 45s + 8 Type 26s + 5 Type 31s = 19 escorts. So much for that promised larger fleet!

    My son serves on a Type 23. They are struggling and he believes they may need to be strengthened much as the Type 42s were. They will not last into the 2030s despite what the politicians re saying.

    He says that the QE and the PoW are draining resources and that the RN is looking to actually have an escort fleet of 12 vessels active.

    There is a battle going on with the Army over this £30Bn ‘black hole’ in defence spending and the army will not tolerate another cut in numbers.

    His oppo in the RFA says the big discussion there is the Argus.

    The RN is struggling with numbers and needs more personnel as they cannot man the ships they have.

    There is also disillusionment over pay and a real battle to increase that.

    All is not as the politicians would have you believe!

    • The UK armed forces are suffering a major recruitment crisis, the effects of which will last a generation or more.

      You can buy all the equipment you like but they will be useless unless we we have the trained and experienced personnel to man them.

      In my own opinion HM armed forces are weak and ineffective and I don’t see mainstream political party that has a solution to the problem.

    • None of that surprises me in the slightest but interesting to hear it confirmed from inside. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Argus go the way of Diligence, quietly retired with no replacement. In fact I would be actively surprised if that isn’t what happens.

      Respect to your son for sticking with it in such a demoralising and difficult environment. It’s people like him who are preventing this staffing crisis become even worse.

    • I think the process is ‘maximise RN capability for £250m’. This is focussing minds. E.g. If we are porting the radar, sea ceptor, decoys, 30mm guns then why not port the 4.5 in gun, not that long ago the subject of a significant ungrade from Babcock? This would make it feasible to give a Type 31 the same capabilties as a GP Type 23 in a new hull with more efficient propulsion, better accomodation and lower manning, probably. Export customers could specify a different gun, radar and AA missiles at cost.

      • Ok, so the £250m is achievable. Are Ladbrokes running a book? The 4.5in ported from the Type 23, the BAe 57mm, the Oto Melara 76mm or the the OPV 30mm ……

      • The trick would be to design into the Type 31 a gun mounting that had ‘adapters’ so you could easily upgrade say from Mk8 to Mk45 at a future point in time; or offer export customers the option of the Oto Melara 76mm for example. Bet you Babcock are the only contenders to have thought this through.

        • If only it was that easy…
          Unfortunately its the ships structure that needs to be designed for the specific gun.
          1. It needs to take account of the weight of the mount acting downwards with no movement (28 Tonnes)
          2.When it is moving you need the angular momentum of the mount in training ( 37 Tonnes ish) and elevation.
          3. The impulse transmitted through the deck and structure during firing of 20 rnd/min which is always many tens of tonnes.

          Add to that the physical clearances from the ships structure, blast calculations on the superstructure from a bigger gun , power services required below deck and the new magazine handling arrangements and stowages then it all gets very complex very quickly.

  13. What am I bid for £250m…

    Some mess, some spin!

    NSS is a highly promising idea that is going to be woefully underfunded and ultimately fail in its key objectives.

    Oh for some credible politicians – more years of this mutual incompetence is doing real lasting damage to the nation.

  14. I wonder where this leaves Spartan and Venator 110? At £250m per ship I wouldn’t have thought those designs were achievable, that said I am not a naval architect!

    I hope Babcock knew about the price point when they designed Arrowhead. I am looking forward to their announcement soon.

  15. As well as all this discussion about cost and capability, we could also discuss timing. They announced today that the first T31 is “expected to be delivered” in 2023. If we assume “delivered” means builder’s sea trials completed ready for handover to RN then does anyone know enough about the process to be able to work backwards from there, based on a vessel in the 3,000t to 4,000t range, in terms of when (in reverse chronological order) we might expect first steel to be cut, more detailed design information to start coming out, and before that the announcement of what design house will be chosen to develop that design?

  16. It is very disappointing that some ship yards have been guaranteed work for assembling vessels without bidding for it in an open and competitive way.

    I see this announcement today as simply window dressing. We need open competition for the construction and assembly of the vessels.

    I also notice that the costs mentioned have gone from £333 million a vessel to £250 million a vessel. Are we really going to get a capable war fighting vessel for £250 million when past vessels are all supplied at £1 Billion each?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here