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 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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Mr Bell

I have no concerns over who gets the order just so long as the design is a viable frigate- so Venator 110 or Spartan designs seem both optimised for true frigate capability. Also the type 31 must be seen as a long term build project, as recommended in the national shipbuilding plan- we do need the first 5 brought into service really quickly, to replace retiring type 23 frigates but after the first 5 are brought into service we then need continuous construction and ideally some foreign orders secured. If the design comes in on budget at around £200-£250 million… Read more »

Rick O'shea

That all sounds great but I will be amazed if that level of capability and viability can be achieved for £250m per vessel.

Also if all the yards are busy building both types of Frigates, what capacity is left to build the FSS ships?

Andy G

Here here!

Andy G

Not a waste of time, comments like these have an effect i believe.


(Chris H) at the risk of being shouted downas a ‘Little Englander’ I cannot support any further naval shipbuilding in Scotland for a good many years. Its time to give a slice of the available taxpayer finded budget to Wales, Northern Ireland and England if suitable facilities allow. Its worth remembering that Belfast had dry docks and cranes big enough to assemble the two carriers and logistically was on the ‘right’ side of the country for all the modules being built at Clyde, Mersey, Appledore and Portsmouth. (The exception being Tyneside) and had built a few carriers and other RN… Read more »

Evan P

TH, I see your Ctrl, C, and V keys are getting their fair share of work.

Stephen G.

I think Cammell Laird should get the type 31s and we should make use of that crane at Rosyth for the solid support ships.


To be fair Chris, while I understand the frustration that many people feel in the rest of the UK feel in respect of Scotland being overprivileged in terms of government support, the carriers were a geniune UK effort. The 10,000 jobs created benefited the whole country.


(Chris H) jack – while the carriers were a superb effort and we created something as a nation of which we can all be proud as you said however it was Scotland that got the major share of the work in the Clyde and Rosyth. Some mey even suggest Portsmouth was sacrificed for the benefit of the Clyde on the altar of devolution and the Independence Referendum in 2014. I couldn’t possibly comment. I possibly made the point badly but it was that the REST of the Uk should now get the major share of anything in the future for… Read more »

Mike H

Not one tender was received from british yards for the Tide class. Do some research Chris


(Chris H) TH – You are like a fart at a party. Amusing but still unwanted. Take youyr copy / paste stupidity and go bother people who give a flying one


How does this £2bn figure square with the £250m target announced for a core spec T31e? Obviously there are design costs which are usually taken to be between 1 and 2 ships worth of cost aren’t they so worst case £0.5bn goes to design costs plus 5 vessels at £250m each leaves £250m unaccounted for. I assume that with a frigate fleet of 13 at the moment there isn’t really much if any new shoreside infrastructure needed (and maybe I’m wrong on that) so I see at least 3 possibilities in no particular order… 1 – £250m of contingency 2… Read more »


Yep – like a typo 🙂


Back at the end of May last year, it was reported that the order had been increased to six ships. UKDJ even covered it at the time.
Granted its not been mentioned again since, but at the very least it shows the intent is there to get more ships if possible


It’s a mistake. The budget is 1.25 billion for 5 ships.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Doesn’t matter, now get the design finalised (fingers crossed for Venator) and get some bloody hulls in the water already


Is this pure speculation or does it mean that Harland and Wolfe, part of the the Babcock/BMT bid is being somewhat sidelined? Wonder if there is an outside chance of a shipyard (H&W) teaming up with Steller Systems to put forward the Spartan Design. I have doubts about the BAE (stretched Corvette(Stretched OPV)) and Babcock (based on a coastguard cutter) designs. The BMT offerings look better, but I do like the look and design work that has gone into the Spartan.

Evan P

TH you are clearly just being obnoxious. If you actually read Paul’s comment, you would know that your robot response doesn’t actually make sense, and has nothing to do with what he is saying. Sometimes your opinions (while different), are backed up with some form of evidence. That is why I haven’t been as hard on you as others have previously. Other times, you are the exact definition of a troll: “a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community”. When… Read more »


(Chris H) TH – You are like a fart at a party. Amusing but still unwanted. Take youyr copy / paste stupidity and go bother people who give a flying one


…and yes my copy / paste works as well as yours does. Including typos….


(Chris H) TH – No its just an aversion to people like you who let off Hot Air for no other reason than to be offensive. The exact definition of a ‘fart’.


Actually TH, you are wrong, responding to the Modernising Defence review is probably more effective than writing to an MP who has no interest in defence. So please stop with the scratched record and come up with something new. Read what people put and engage in the discourse, one day you might have something constructive to say.


The block build concept would suit yards connected by the Irish Sea . But bringing Rosyth in would increase transport costs. Speculating I could see the Irish Sea yards doing blocks and assembly with perhaps Rosyth getting a full ship as a stop gap until SSS or other work comes available. If T31 is successful and further orders come, there could be work for both Rosyth and the Irish Sea yards.

Andy G

TH, are you retarded in some way?

Daniele Mandelli

We need hulls in the water, quickly. Choose a design, give the work to English, Welsh and Northern Irish yards, and get on with it!


I’m sure the £2Bn figure stated is incorrect. Otherwise this changes everything about the T31e in terms of capability.


It is.


Bring some work back to the tyne.Good men willing to work but over looked due to overseas labour


Talking of frigate designs, here is the latest French one .(Greece are said to be looking at buying a couple)

tim sinnett

Looking at the costs they will around £700 million each. Decent asw fit, torpedos, 76mm main gun and up to 32 aster missile tubes. It will be interesting to see how near we get with the t31 for our £250 million.


Tim you are correct in this being the estimated cost (680m Euros I believe), which is interesting in itself as this is supposedly 25% cheaper than a FREMM which is often quoted at a cost of circa 700m Euro as well.

If the bel harry/FTI is circa 400m then it is a great effort, at 700m I am not sure at all.


from what I read FREMM ended up costing close to 1b and so not a whole lot less than the t45, admittedly euro and not pound which might explain the 700m figure based on the old exchange rate.

Paul T

The FTI looks an interesting class of Frigate indeed,but the Italian future PPA class seems more impressive to me – 3,900 million Euro for the first seven ships sounds even better IMHO.


Bring on the Battlecruisers.


It’s been reported that the price of the first two of these Greek frigates will be 2 billion Euros.

More expensive than the Type 26’s.


French know how to build properly armed ships of the navy!

tim sinnett

What is your aim here Pierre? If you are French (which I doubt), you are our allies and neighbours who develop many military projects together, at least at the start before we realise we have slightly different needs. The French appear to build exportable well rounded ships and have a proper industrial strategy, we seem to build more highly specialised kit that should out perform French boats in certain areas but with payoffs in other areas or fitted for but not with. Our armed forces are similar in size and strength. Why the need for point scoring from you? What… Read more »


(Chris H) Pierre mon brave – If that is true why can’t you build a viable and reliable aircraft carrier? or more than one even? Mon Dieu – you had the chance to share in the QEs with us and bottled it. As you did with Typhoon. French pride is like a cross you all bear but happily we don’t.

Oh and all those RAF A400Ms, C-17s and Chinooks you need to use in Africa? You’re welcome!

Adieu …


Appledore in north Devon every time they have built for the navy have built them on time and within budget ,and the easiest option would be what ever design is picked let both consortiums have their share like the national shipbuilding strategy said.BAE have had the monopoly for ten or fifteen years,which surely cannot be good for the british taxpayer . The shipbuilding stratergy is about jobs for british workers not foreign workers.


Appledore hasn’t ever built any complete warships. Just patrol boats for the Irish.


HMS Scott??


It would be unfortunate if political considerations resulted in not choosing the best design with the most export development potential.


It’s a program that originated in politics and will be decided by politics.

The Royal Navy never requested the ships. Sir John Parker (a former shipbuilder) recommended them in a report commissioned by George Osborne when he was head of the Treasury.


So a child of austerity then? According to the project timeline in the RFI doc we are now in the competitive design phase for the downselected proposals, which I assume includes at least one from Babcock and BMT, with no sign of a CGI from them. Am looking forward to seeing what they come up with. If Babcock can make the Venator 110 or preferably 120 light frigate with Sea Ceptor and a 76mm for the £250m that would pip ‘Leander’ with a 57mm I think.


Interesting. Was thinking given the price and requirements constraints I could see the competitive designs converging to be quite similar differing only really in the main gun. Scandinavian IKEA type containerised weapons containers would give the RN something to chew on.


(Chris H) Don – Sorry if its assembled in Scotland its wrong. Period. Setting aside the politics in any logistics test Rosyth is completely the wrong side of the country thus increasing costs and risk (which adds cost). They are suggesting different areas of the country to build modules as a sop thats all. How big do they think Frigate modules are and how many do they think are needed to build a Frigate? One carrier module alone weighed more than 3 Type 31s!


Chris, might be my lack of knowledge but I don’t believe the Danish frigate designs mandate modular build. My understanding is that they offer a kind of ‘configure your ship according to mission before you sail’ capability. This is a seductive idea, plug in containerised Sea Ceptor or AShM kind of thing but I think you can go too far with the idea. You have to plug in the skilled crew on demand too. That said I think most people are on board with the advantages and future proofing of a mission bay. Completely agree about assembling frigate modules in… Read more »


Best crack on with Type 31. Looks like we are losing 3 Type 23s.

Tim Winter

Looking at the comments on armament fit for these ships many people mention type 31being fitted with 76mm or 57mm gun I like say use 4.5 in gun from type 23 as you have large stock of ammunition and spares available as older frigates are decommissioned as I believe they are using other weapons and radars etc in this way


Good point. The Mk8 4.5in is an excellent weapon and would give Type 31 a naval gunfire support capability superior to the Oto 76mm. And if we are keeping it on Type 45 we will have to have a logistics chain anyway.


These Flower class corvettes and the River class OPV’s, we learn, will hold the line until the first Type 26 becomes available in 2027. They will be knocking these out like hot cakes so the last in service will probably be around 2043. By that time the Type 45’s will all have reached out of service date so the RN will never have the problem of manning both. The awful truth is one can see the Type 26 is the Type 23 and Type 45 replacement. Down to 8 escorts plus assorted corvettes. Simples.