Babcock and BMT recently signed a cooperation agreement which could see the Type 31e Frigate built in Rosyth, Scotland and Appledore, Devon if their bid is successful.

Recently it was reported that Babcock International was keen to challenge BAE Systems dominance and is interested in bidding for the £2Bn Type 31e contract.

We understand that Rosyth in Scotland and Appledore in Devon are the preferred build and assembly locations for the joint bid.

Babcock were originally offering the ‘Arrowhead 120 while BMT were offering the Venator 110, the companies now say that they will be exploring both available designs to determine the best possible option.

The companies say that new arrangement draws on the combined strengths of Babcock and BMT and will deliver ‘innovative, capable, affordable and flexible customer solutions, within a fast changing and increasingly demanding environment’.

Babcock say that the 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.

We’ve contacted both BMT and Babcock and await a response on solid build location plans.

The option to build the Type 31e frigates in blocks reflects how the biggest ship ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was constructed. The aircraft carrier was built in blocks by over 10,000 people in six main British cities.

Tony Douglas, the Chief Executive Officer of DE&S, said,

“The Type 31e programme will drive the change that is needed through the entire system, because we have set tough time and cost constraints.

The collective challenge for DE&S and industry is to deliver Type 31e in a different, more innovative way than has gone before. I want this to be a transformation in the way we do business – not just in ships and acquisition but across the entire defence equipment and support portfolio.”

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Harry Hooper
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Harry Hooper

….there’s going to be a very large number of sweaties gutted at that given they were promised all of them in lieu of the drop in number of the previous frigates. Serves them right for being so gullible.

Stephen G.
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Stephen G.

Surely Rosyth should be left free to build/assemble the solid support ships? Also building blocks hundreds of miles apart with the associated transport costs is inefficient and un-competitive. This is not the way forward. We need investment in British shipbuilding so we have modern shipyards, capable of building up to large ships on 1 site. If we build the solid support ships we will then have the facilities and experience to bid for cruise ships like other European countries do so British shipbuilding will not be relying solely on the Navy. The solid support ships are INVALUABLE to British shipbuilding.

Stephen G.
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Stephen G.

The other obvious option for the build/assembly of the solid support ships would be Harland and Wolff.

David Steeper
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If we build the solid support ships here they will cost £100’s of millions more. Unless you think Father Christmas will come to the rescue we (the RN budget) will have to find cuts elsewhere to make up the money.

Stephen G.
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Stephen G.

Why not just move every single job to a foreign country, it will be cheaper after all and that is the only thing that matters, right? Wrong. They will keep our industries alive, keep our people in well paid jobs, and keep the huge £ in our own country.
How about we take some of the £billions of Britain’s hard earned money we give away to foreign countries every single year (“foreign aid”)?

Stephen G.
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Stephen G.

Plus it will give us the facilities, skills and experience to bid for cruise ships so the money will be MORE than made back up. Oh, I keep forgetting, they are waging a deliberate and organized war against Britain’s heavy industry (in every single field too mind you).

We are being humiliated. No other major European country is waging war against its heavy industries, stop this war against ours.

Stephen G.
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Stephen G.

In the national shipbuilding strategy they said they will “strongly encourage” Britain’s shipyards to bid for the solid support ships. I GUARANTEE they will do ZERO. They literally CANNOT WAIT to give this huge order to a foreign country, like they do in EVERY SINGLE FIELD. They have waged deliberate, organized war against Britain’s heavy industry for decades,and they are still waging it to this day. We have got almost none left compared with other major European countries who have massive heavy industries in several different fields. We do not want to be the only major European country with practically… Read more »

David Steeper
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Stephen what you’re arguing for is an industrial strategy not a defence strategy. If the Govt agreed to subsidise their build out of non defence money then I would agree with it. But they’re not.

Darren Riche-Webber
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Darren Riche-Webber

Can you explain this.

Darren Riche-Webber
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Darren Riche-Webber

David. Can you explain this? It was a UK nation Shipbuilding strategy, not a naval shipbuilding strategy. You totally ignore the tax clawback in these projects. No, they would not cost 100s of millions more when they are built in the UK, but even if they are, they would still better value for the taxpayer when built here! This UK government abides by eu rules that are killing UK industry. Those MARS tankers were not cheaper by being built in South Korea.

Darren Riche-Webber
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Darren Riche-Webber

So annoying that we cannot edit bad grammar. It was a UK “National”, not “nation”, Shipbuilding Strategy.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

The comment on Solid Support Ships seems sensible?

On the subject of the article the RN needs the ships, in reasonable numbers, and quickly.

We could spend forever going round in circles.

I don’t care where or how they are built as long as it is in the UK and the MoD is not bled dry by Baes with the cost.

Christopher Fox
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Christopher Fox

They should be built in England so that skills can be maintained and BAE is not the default option. A shipbuilding Stategy should be based on all the UK yards available.

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

I personally do not give two pennies about where they are built or assembled. I would love it if the final assembly yard was not on the Clyde so there was a more amicable and even spread of work. The simple fact is that construction has to start no later than Jan 2019 otherwise the RN is,in massive trouble. Even more peril than it is in now! The type 31 has to be built initially in a surge of construction for first ideally 6 hulls, all constructed and in service by 2028( to replace the type 23s leaving service) then… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Agree Mr Bell save for one point.

The Surveillance you mention when Batch 3 Type 22’s were withdrawn has / is being replaced by CESM / Shaman installed on the 6 T45’s, with 1 spare.

So actually an increase in capability for a change!

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

There are also other vessels besides the T45 with surveillance equipment fitted and the associated RN staff embarked to manage it.

David Steeper
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Well said Mr Bell.

Pacman27
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Pacman27

I think the Type 31 should be built in the most cost efficient manner – and for me that probably means single site. I have said a number of times that we have enough of a requirement to spread work out across the whole of the UK in a structured manner, but a frigate factory is the only way to reach the cost/value point the UK government (and others) are looking for. All of the worlds dominant ship yards are now single site – but the UK wants to spread the love, thats fine but it will cost more in… Read more »

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Totally agree. Single site is the clear choice. Problem is the nss needs modular assembly to keep multiple yards busy. The only way to square this circle is to include the FSS in the ship building workload. I have written to my MP to make this point. He has said he will forward my comments to the Secretary for Defence.

Darren Riche-Webber
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Darren Riche-Webber

Pacman. It would be a single site (be it Cammell Laird, Harlands or Rosyth, but Rosyth with Inchgreen is future better options for the FSS), just that hull parts come from other areas. Shipyards around the world do get hull bits from other areas. Ulsan Yard receives pieces from a yard further south, and Cruise shipbuilders in Italy get midship sections towed over 300 miles around the country. Closer would be better, but the cost of towing or barging may not be much difference between 40 miles to 200 miles, I don’t know. But if this increases speed it would… Read more »

Little Unicorn
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Little Unicorn

I may be being slow here, but the article says that this is a £2bn contract. I had been under the impression that it was a £1.25bn contract with the vessels being given an average unit cost of £250m (hence 1.25bn for 5). Does this mean that a) the uk has given a larger budget for the programme or b) that there is a commitment for more than 5 type 31e? Apologies if I’ve completely missed something obvious.

Julian
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Julian

Very little is obvious when trying to join the dots between politicians’ statements and make sense of them. Notwithstanding the rumour that David posted below about 3 T23s being paid off early(*), if the current escort fleet is taken as 19 (6 T45 + 13 T23) then we would need to build 6 T31 to make good on the Cameron government’s statement that T31 was intended to increase escort numbers. If one also factors in design costs and contingency funding then 6 x £250m + £500m for design plus contingency might make the £2bn look about right. Also, quite a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

That is standard from the MoD Julian! 4 Tides is an increase yet they replace 4 Leaf and 4 Rover. 62 Wildcat replace well over 100 Lynx. QE and POW replace Ocean when in reality they replace Invincible, Illustrious, Ark Royal, Ocean. Ships 7 and 8 of Type 45 cancelled to spend extra on T26, which is itself then cut. The list sadly is endless. Needs people who follow, study and research this stuff to keep tabs and shout about it when they see it, because as you rightly say Joe public are only interested in what car is on… Read more »

Lee H
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Lee H

Platforms may cost that (CDEL – credit card purchase) but first year running costs (RDEL) are also picked up by the project.
The slight of hand is at work again.
When you buy a washing machine on your credit card that hasn’t paid for the electric it’s going to use etc. You pay for that out of your “housekeeping” or the cost of running your home.

Lee H
Guest
Lee H

Or think when you buy a mobile phone
iPhone £1000 (CDEL) credit card – borrowed money
Line rental £30 p/m (RDEL) wages – real money
1st year cost of phone = CDEL+RDEL+(CDEL % interest @1%)
Total cost
1000+360+10
£1370

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Which begs the question do BAE and the MOD price the Type 26 using the same accounting standards as DCNS and the French government used for Fremm?

David
Guest
David

Where, when and how we build them is important but not as much as what the RN is getting. Do we really believe these will truly be viable surface combatants given such a bargin-basement ‘not-to-exceed’ cost/hull? Cross-decking Sea Ceptor and associated equipment from retiring Type 23s – as is the case planned for the Type 26 – will go some way but what about ASM, CIWS, sensor suite, etc.,. I really want to be optimistic and celebrate the RN actually getting what it needs but in the Type 31, I just don’t see it. That said, I would love to… Read more »

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Paying off Type 23’s early might suggest to the cynical that Babcock will be paid by the MOD to build Type 31 rather than put new engines in Type 23. Action replay of BAE Type 26 versus OPV anyone? Let’s hear it for the MOD; if at first you don’t succeed…..

Pacman27
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Pacman27

I am not as pessimistic as some out there and believe £250m can be achieved. It seems to me that the basic hull and fit often works out around £1m per metre length for a RN warship (Tides are double hulled but not armoured and about 60% of this cost). We then get to fit out and what can we get for the remaining £125m (all are ballpark as devil is clearly in the detail) 5″ Gun (1)= £30m VLS (24) = £30m Compact C4 Sonar = £5m RIM 116 (1) = £3m Radars = £10m Fire Control Systems =… Read more »

Lee H
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Lee H

We need to understand what we want the platform to do before we talk about numbers. What roles are they going to fulfil? If we believe that we will always have a carrier and her supports at sea: Carrier with up to 24 F-35, 9 Merlin ASW and 5 Merlin ASACS 2 T26 with 2 Lynx Wildcat 1 T45 with 1 Lynx Wildcat 1 Astute 1 Tide with 1 Merlin That doesn’t leave much left in the “high end” platform locker. 1 T45 is always along side, 1 in refit, 1 in FOST. 1 preparing to deploy and 1 deployed… Read more »

Paul.P
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Paul.P

I think the preceived solution is Type 31, increased quantity of hulls which are cheaper to build and to man. Colloquially known as ‘patrol’ frigates, but perfectly adequate for standing tasks until they are are either sold or upgraded.

dadsarmy
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dadsarmy

“We understand that Rosyth in Scotland and Appledore in Devon are the preferred build and assembly locations for the joint bid.”

Or the other way around, not convinced Devonport can handle the length (117 to 120 metres), the Irish Navy OPVs were 90metres. And the beam would be 14 metres compared with I forget less for the OPVs.

Rosyth is massive could build 3 or even 4 at the same time, plus fabrication sheds for blocks.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Cammell Laird deserve something. It is becoming clear the solid support ships need to be designated ‘complex’ warships if the national shipbuilding strategy is to become a real model for UK industrial strategy. Don’t really care how its done but pit something complex in the design!

Stephen G.
Guest
Stephen G.

Or just make sure they go to British shipbuilding for the reasons laid out in the n.s.s. I’d be very interested to know what “strong encouragement” (from the n.s.s.) is being given to British shipbuilding to build these ships?

Nick
Guest
Nick

Appledore built HMS Scott in the late nineties, 13,500 t / length 131.1 m. Presume they still have that capability which more than adequate to build a T31e 4,000 t / length 120 m

Darren
Guest
Darren

Yes built diagonally in the dry dock. You could assemble two ships at a time in the Main Rosyth Dry dock, or four at a time at Cammell Laird with the BAE or any other type 31 designs. Fleet Solid Support Ships? Inchgreen is an area that has been eyed for being developed for future shipbuilding other than military, with Birkenhead, Harlands, or Rosyth having big deep dry docks and cranage? A&P Tyne would always be a great feeder yard, but does have good cranage but nothing like 1000 ton lift, but neither does Birkenhead and the deep dry dock… Read more »

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Would be a turn up for the bookies if BAE and Cammell Laird got export orders for the Cutlass/Leander before Babcock got export orders for the Venator/Arrowhead/Type 31

Darren
Guest
Darren

It will be interesting. I wonder if the consortia that does not get the first batch ( I say first batch, because a fickle MOD may want the other design as second batch, as if, but nothing surprises me), get some work building certain deck superstructures and hull blocks? Along with not even mentioned facilities yet, as in Pallion (which has RFA Fleet Solid Support Ship hull blocks written all over it), or Port Clarence Wilton Marine (hull, or deck superstructures, not to unlike building deck for platforms, or it should not be seen as too different from)