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.
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.”
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.”
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.