Babcock has won the competition to build five Type 31e Frigates for the Royal Navy in Rosyth, Scotland.

The news potentially provides a much-needed boost for Ferguson Marine Engineering on the Clyde too, the yards financial position collapsed in August however it is a member of the Babcock team.

Babcock’s consortium beat a BAE-led team and another led by Atlas Elektronik UK to clinch the £1.25bn deal for five ships.

The Type 31e Frigate is expected to sit at 5,700 tonnes and 138.7 metres in length, for a more in-depth look at the design of the vessel please click here.

Image via Babcock.

According to Babcock in a statement:

“Following a comprehensive competitive process, Arrowhead 140, a capable, adaptable and technology-enabled global frigate will be the UK Royal Navy’s newest class of warships, with the first ship scheduled for launch in 2023.

At its height the programme will maximise a workforce of around 1250 highly- skilled roles in multiple locations throughout the UK, with around 150 new technical apprenticeships likely to be developed. The work is expected to support an additional 1250 roles within the wider UK supply chain.

With Babcock’s Rosyth facility as the central integration site, the solution provides value for money and squarely supports the principles of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. It builds on the knowledge and expertise developed during the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier modular build programme.”

Babcock had previously warned that 450 jobs could be lost at Rosyth if it didn’t get the work.

“The company are extremely optimistic they can work with the recognised trade unions (Unite, Prospect & GMB) when they secure the T31e project to minimise the risk of potential future compulsory redundancies. To achieve this, in the meantime, the company shall look to release volunteers for redundancy under the current phase announced in February 2019.

However, whilst securing the T31e project will give the yard a future longer term there is still the matter of current surplus labour. It is for this reason the company and the recognised trade unions shall look to enter into a temporary mobility agreement to secure the skillsets required for the future. In the unfortunate event the company is unsuccessful in securing the T31e project it is likely we would be faced with the potential of 450 trade union members being made compulsory redundant, impacting all skill sets and all trade union collectives.”

Image via Babcock.

Babcock said that their Arrowhead design lends itself equally to either a single build strategy, or a cross–site build strategy bringing together modules – an approach used for aircraft carrier assembly at Rosyth.

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.

The Type 31 programme will guarantee at least 2,500 jobs across the country including 150 new technical apprenticeships.

According to the Financial Times in their analysis of this news in light of Babcock consortium partners H&W and Fergusons both going into administration in recent months:

“The Babcock consortium includes Thales, as well as H&W and Ferguson. Under the original proposal, the plan was to assemble the vessels at Rosyth using “blocks” built by H&W and Ferguson. It remained unclear if the role of H&W and Ferguson in the consortium would be affected by their predicament.”

Archie Bethel, Babcock CEO, said:

“Driven by innovation and backed by experience and heritage, Arrowhead 140 is a modern warship that will meet the maritime threats of today and tomorrow, with British ingenuity and engineering at its core. It provides a flexible, adaptable platform that delivers value for money and supports the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Arrowhead 140 will offer the Royal Navy a new class of ship with a proven ability to deliver a range of peacekeeping, humanitarian and warfighting capabilities whilst offering communities and supply chains throughout the UK a wide range of economic and employment opportunities.”

Image via Babcock.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“The UK is an outward-looking island nation, and we need a shipbuilding industry and Royal Navy that reflect the importance of the seas to our security and prosperity. This is an industry with a deep and visceral connection to so many parts of the UK and to the Union itself.

My government will do all it can to develop this aspect of our heritage and the men and women who make up its workforce – from apprentices embarking on a long career, to those families who have worked in shipyards for generations.

“I look forward to the restoration of British influence and excellence across the world’s oceans. I am convinced that by working together we will see a renaissance in this industry which is so much part of our island story – so let’s bring shipbuilding home.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“These mighty ships will form the next generation of the Royal Navy fleet. The Type 31 frigates will be a fast, agile and versatile warship, projecting power and influence across the globe.

The ships will be vital to the Royal Navy’s mission to keeping peace, providing life-saving humanitarian aid and safeguarding the economy across the world from the North Atlantic, to the Gulf, and in the Asia Pacific.”

The first ship is expected to be in the water by 2023.

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AV
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AV

Right team, right ship.
Excellent news!

Matt
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Matt

Fantastic! Let’s crack on!
[email protected]

Sean
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Sean

Excellent news…
Now can we have more please Boris?

Expat
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Expat

Looking increasingly like it won’t be Boris’s decision we could be headed for Lib Lab coalition which means defence will suffer imo.

Sean
Guest
Sean

Not if the polls are to be believed, and if the country is insane enough to elect Corbyn then we deserve to become the next Crimea for Putin.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

It seems to be a choice between the Insane Boris or the Insane Corbyn… (Unless Boris is in prison by then) Or perhaps the Lib dems will gain enough. It seems mad to try to settle Brexit with a general election as that is never something people base on a single concern.

Frank62
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Frank62

Bang on-Brexit was a single issue simple single question, but GEs are everything & no party has either much integrety, posative track record, moral high ground or vision. If Brexit has shown anything, it’s that those who currently are elected to represent us are very poor indeed. I’m sick of the lot of them. Hope we get a fully rounded T31 that can hold its own rather than a poundland death trap. But we must get hulls built & enlarge the escort fleet with an assertive Russia & neo-colonial PRC besides many other challanges. It’s not the time to be… Read more »

Steven
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Steven

Corbyn is an evil, evil man, the choice would always be Boris – at least he is trying to get the job done, which is what the people voted for in the first place

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

They are both as bad as each other. Boris was pro-Eu until the day he realised his career could benefit by jumping sides. He is now mobilising the feelings of the far right and breaking the law… Not exactly the sort of thing we expect from our leaders… As for giving the people what they voted for… The referendum was to tell parliament the feelings of the public. It was not a legally binding vote as referendums in the UK are not legally binding. So parliament were told that the feeling of the people was that pretty split down the… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

Given the choice, with Marxists running Labour and the Liberals abandoning Democracy (in policy of not in their name) it has to be Boris. At least he seems to believe in Britain.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

He believes in himself not Britain!

Also the lib Dems would not be abandoning democracy.

Douglas Newell
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Douglas Newell

Wow the Libs are that desperate they’d join with a communist anti Semite who voted Leave. ???

Geoffrey Roach
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Geoffrey Roach

Excellent news. Well done Babcock. To coin an old phrase…”we want eight” or ten or….

John Clark
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John Clark

Absolutely, the right design has won, I had convinced myself that Leander would win the contract due to BAE Systems meddling…

Excellent news, an initial 8 would have been nice though.

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Thames Ironworks greatly inspired that cry to help sustain it, unfortunately it only got them one more ship (Thunderer) and two years short of the 1st WW it turned out to be their last sadly as it couldn’t compete on price due to the cabal of the northern yards who tied up supplies of precious and vital metals for ship production. What goes around comes around it seems a century later.

Geoffrey Roach
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Geoffrey Roach

Interesting….never knew that…you learn every day.

maurice10
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maurice10

Good news for Rosyth after all their hard work on the carriers. Now it’s down to the SNP to ensure the work remains there?

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Yes will be interesting if what seems likely presently there is a vote inside 5 years or so for independence. I wonder how easy it will be to change work loads out of Scotland or whether it will for the most part have to wait till after the bulk of these and type 26 are built.

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

The Arrowhead 140 is a great ship, BUT wasn’t T31e supposed to be small & cheap? If you want a 5000+ ton ship, why not order more T26?

Animal
Guest
Animal

Because T26 are a LOT more expensive.

There is a budget for these ships, and this was the best design within the budget (albeit the MOD have fiddled a bit)

SC1
Guest
SC1

Because the T26 isnt ‘cheap’

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

I can’t see Arrowhead being cheap, unless it is missing a lot of kit. Equip it properly & I would not be surprised if the price is getting near T26.

Paul42
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Paul42

Got it in one – a lot of kit is missing…….

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

In retrospect I think the small and cheap concept only arose because the MOD set a £250m cost limit and BAe were in pole position with the River 2/ Khareef designs. It would have become a self fulfilling prophesy of defeat had Babcock not persisted with alternative hull designs. We have moved into an era where frigates are no longer a circus act. They are a commodity. The T26 is a gold plated ASW design that is hard to ‘cheapen’ to a GP. The RN always really wanted a full fat GP frigate with substantial upgrade potential. They have got… Read more »

Lee1
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Lee1

Lets just hope they get kitted out with the necessary firepower etc.

Spyinthesky
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Spyinthesky

Indeed as mentioned a while back the actual size is far from the most expensive aspect of building a warship, especially if you go ‘designed for’ over ‘designed with’ as your meme. Mind you I have no idea if the type 26’s costly hull design could be viably simplified for general purpose needs but the fact that option hasn’t been chosen over a whole design even with our suspect decision makers in control it seems unlikely to me it could.

JoshP
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JoshP

Because size, cost and capability are three very different things. Or, to put it another way, steel is cheap.

Mark L
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Mark L

This is an excellent platform choice for the RN but will it win any export orders? Until now the Danes have not made any export sales and it is a lot larger than other contenders in the light frigate market such as the MEKO A-200 that Atlas bid.

Trevor
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Trevor

But are not possible purchasers more interested in running costs, the size of crew, etc? Over and above the hull are not the mix of weapons and other equipment another consideration?

Dan
Guest
Dan

I don’t see much of an export market, to be honest. The A140 is a great choice for the RN thanks to its growth potential, but any prospective buyer that needs a Merlin-capable flight deck will probably be more interested in the T26.
Conversely, any nation that just wants a low-cost frigate will probably prefer something smaller and more heavily armed. And let’s face it, the usual export targets for British ships will be more interested in picking up a second-hand T23 at a knock-down price.

Nick C
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Nick C

I’m not sure anyone would want a second hand T23, by the time they go out of service they will be pretty long in the tooth. I agree with you about the export market, these things are close to the size of a WW2 cruiser, but without the same obvious firepower. As they say on the BBC, other brands are available.

Derek
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Derek

The shipbuilding plan does talk about an export version but also adds potential sales of T31 at 10 to 15 years with a drumbeat of new builds to replace them as sold. Second hand Frigates built to RN standard on the market with years of life left will be a great seller.

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Potentially it could be as, or more heavily armed mind and a bigger ship offers more potential and flexibility in that regard. One presumes overall base hull cost and running cost against the opposition will be the crucial aspects. If that is competitive then potential buyers would likely see its size and the flexibility it offers for future upgrading as a possible advantage.

DJ
Guest
DJ

While the export market for an A140 is smaller, there is less opposition (at the cheaper end). The problem for a Leander size ship is there is too much existing competition. T26 is a very expensive option, especially if its a GP rather than ASW frigate that you are after. A number of countries seem to be looking for something similar either now or will be by the time the UK run will be finished. Off the top of my head, Brazil, Indoneasia, New Zealand, maybe some in the Middle East, Greece if they could find the money, Norway is… Read more »

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

I have known for approx 8 weeks with around 99% certainty who had won. I was constrained on commercial reasons for not saying anything.
A couple of Mid East navies are interested in buying and building T31 in the region using Babcock expertise.
They had both looked at T26 , coughed at the 1 bill price tag and then saw the T31 at a third of the price. Neither need a high end blue water ASW unit so a GP frigate was ideal for them.

Propellerman
Guest

i think the Indonesian Navy are looking at two off also – the weak GBP has made these ships very affordable compared to European built competitors.
i to be built here and 1 under licence at PT PAL, the govt owned yard with UK providing the expensive bits

Mark L
Guest
Mark L

Excellent news if it goes ahead. The platform has a long range and the large hull will give good seakeeping so it has plenty of blue water capability. The UK cannot compete with China on price but it can on quality.
With the UK price being £250M plus GFE weapons £300M to £350M should give a reasonable combat system.

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Sounds logical, sophistication is overkill for many navies and the money could be better used increasing fire power suitable to its environment.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

BAe will have to sell their OPV/ Corvette/ Light frigate family of hulls …River 2/ Khareef / Leander on their own merits. I think they have shown Leander in some S. American countries.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

BAe will also need ask less then £250m each for Leander, or add extra kit for free!!

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

BAE should exploit the River 2 hull and develop it into a family of OPVs, corvettes and patrol frigates with lengths from 90m to 120m. A la Meko. The design cost is now sunk and they have skills and build facilities …all courtesy of HMG.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Good news to have a mix up in the Naval Ships business, but as a taxpayer I’m a bit concerned about throwing away the Artisan Radars and Combat Systems already on the T23s rather than using them as GFX in the T31.

A return to streaming, more training burden, more logistics burden, less flexibility in crews. Not sure the RN can afford that from a manpower perspective alone.

Paul Bestwick
Guest
Paul Bestwick

As I understand it, Artisan is being moved over as part of the government furnished equipment as is sea captor. As to combat systems the jury is still out as to whether tactics or the BAE offering will be fitted in the end.

donald_of_tokyo
Guest
donald_of_tokyo

Hitting water on 2023, and handed-over to RN on 2024, is the aim? When it will commission?

Compared, T26-hull-1 will hit the water on 2021, and handed over to RN on 2025.

Not sure about the schedule… For example; As crews are anyway needed several months before handing over (not commissioning), and anyway trained man-power is 1400 man short, HMS Argyl will decommission as planned in 2023, and (about 60% of) her crew will move to T31-hull-1?

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

@ donald_of_tokyo
HMS Argyl only came out of LIFEX in 2017, she could have 2/3 more years of extra life left?
It might Not be worthwhile to upgrade HMS Monmouth, just repair only, to keep her seaworthy,
keep the kit for 1st Arrowhead, take Monmouth out of service just before handover, for crew transfer to 1st Arrowhead.
I think the first T26 will most likely hit the water, near end of 2021.
Also, surplus crew from decommissioned T23s, will be needed for T23(ASW)s coming out of LIFEX.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Fantastic news. The right design won in my opinion. I now need to go off and read all the other articles and associated comments to see what details, if any, on weapons and sensor fit might have been announced/confirmed at this stage. My initial thoughts/questions re export potential however are… 1 – I realise I’m actually stuck at first base since I’m a bit unclear who would be leading the export drive. Is it the Babcock consortium that now goes off around the world trying to realise the export-success part of the plan? How does the UK government benefit? Only… Read more »

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

Here you go ref costs, the following from OMT in their PDF on Iver Huitfeldt design … “The Danish frigate program targeted total life cycle cost and applied principles from commercial shipping. In commercial shipping focus is on reduction of crew cost, fuel cost and emissions. Understanding these commercial cost efficiency principles gave DALO another perspective on the frigate program. Striving for low fuel cost at cruising speed (18knots) while meeting the requirements for fast acceleration and high top speed became a core part of the propulsion system concept developed for the frigates. The result was a propulsion system giving… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

Disappointed. To me the Leander was the logical choice. The RN already operates the River class. BAE offer the Khareef which is an enhanced River with the longest endurance of any corvette in service. The Leander is an enhancement of the Khareef. All 3 ship classes share design features and parts. The Navy could (and should) operate all 3 types and I believe the export offers would be far better. The selection of the Arrowhead may succeed in breaking BAE’s hold on the industry but has succeeded in securing the total monopoly of Scotland on warship production in the UK… Read more »

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Sounds like Thales CMS. Any info on the gun and Sea Ceptor silos?

Lazarus
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Lazarus

Its the modern-day Type 21 frigate. I note that the company describes its “peacekeeping” efforts before its warfare missions. Not goof; its not 1999 anymore.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

@ Lazarus, what Tosh are you sprouting?
Type 21 frigate was much smaller in comparison to Arrowhead, and had a Aluminium hull that would burn!
Their is No comparison to T21 here. Also T31 will be better armed that T21, please read the specs!

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

T21 has a steel hull. I was stood next to one last month.

It has some Ally bulkheads and like a number of modern warship designs a
partial ally superstructure as do a lot of modern warships including USN DDG51s and RN T45

Ally does not burn but it does melt and lose its structural integrity when subjected to heat. That’s why in a fire it needs to be boundary cooled . It melts at a far lower temperature than steel.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

My Apologies of my mistake of what I meant.
I meant the Type 21 frigates had a higher proportion of Aluminium in the superstructure, which contributed to the loss of two T21s in the Falklands War.

Propellerman
Guest

The Pakistani Navy are still getting good mileage out of a hull that was deemed not upgradeable to new weapons systems – even though they managed to do it fine themselves

nothing better than seeing the engines at full power and dumping full pitch onto the CPP on these and watch them go – they still fly even now with added weight

donald_of_tokyo
Guest
donald_of_tokyo

Meirion X-san

I’m afraid the specs are not so impressive.

– Hull is great, so about a half of the T21 shortfall is non-existing. Other than top speed, Arrowhead 140 (A140) is much better than T21.

– Armament is not known. Even “1x 76mm gun and 12 CAMM” is already better than T21 in anti-air (CAMM is brand new but SeaCat was already vintage). But, less capable in NGFS, as well as ASW.

Of course, if more money come, T31 can be as great as we like. But, it is big if.

Helions
Guest
Helions
John Stehmeier
Guest
John Stehmeier

Great ship, hope that the RN eventually gets 9 of these and an additional Type 26. 9 Type 26 and 9 Type 31 because of Rule of 3. But quick aside, what if the RN also got like 6 to 9 Khareef class corvettes. Not the Type 31 offering of Leander but the original 99 metre long corvette modified for RN requirements to better protect the UK’s EEZ since the River class don’t offer much in real combat. The cost of the 3 Khareef class bought by the Omani Navy was £400mil total (according to wikipedia) so that would mean… Read more »

donald_of_tokyo
Guest
donald_of_tokyo

“Doubts over Type 31 frigate work for struggling yards”, Finacial times article.

Babcock guy said, H&W and FM did not take the risk, so they have no privilege. It looks like they are similar in status as Cammel Laird.

On the other hand, as Thales took risk (as Babcock stated), TACTICOS CMS will be secured, I guess.

JME89
Guest
JME89

They should look at buying more of these as a type 45 successor programme

donald_of_tokyo
Guest
donald_of_tokyo

And close BAE Clyde yard ?

Simply not enough work to keep 2 yards for escort within RN budget.

JME89
Guest
JME89

Couldn’t they just build more T26 as a batch 2 with updated technology for the Clyde? T45 is getting on though now surely the Sampson radar could be condensed down abit to fit onto T31? My point was to try and get more hulls into the navy will struggle to convince politicians to drop 1 billion/warship.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

@ JME89
The Arrowhead is still Not large enough to take the Top weight of the Simpson radar! The beam of the Type 45 at midship is 22m, the beam of Arrowhead is 19.8m Also it is a lot shorter then a T45, which is 152m, which means it could not carry the warpon load required of a full destoryer.
But I think the Arrowhead would make a good AAW support frigate if Networked(CEC) to a T45 Simpson radar.
An Arrowhead AAW frigate would still need an effected AAW radar that the structure of the ship can handle, when operating alone.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

I suspect that by the time Arrowhead is being considered as an AAW hull we will see Sampson being replaced by lighter flat faced ASEA radars mounted lower. E.g. CEAFAR. I tend to think of Sampson as the radar equivalent of BetaMax….better technology but it will lose out to flat face VHS which people will work on until if is as good. ?

Paul42
Guest
Paul42

Now the armament details have been released – its apparent that these ‘Mighty Ships’ will be anything but!! A 57mm plus 2 x 40mm bofors, only 24 x Sea Ceptor, no ASM or Phalanx…….a toothless Tiger that cannot be used for NGS, a bow mounted sonar but no anti submarine weapons……no offensive Anti-Ship capability and very limited Sea Ceptor in silos instead of Mk41 Vls which could have had quad packed CAMM plus Tomahawk or ASROC. All on all it seemed Arrowhead was by far the best option – hull wise this is true, but as for the rest –… Read more »