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.”


  1. 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 each and is capable of performing escort duties, patrol, anti surface strike and ASW via embarked helicopter and modular weapons fit with expandable capability, then it will secure foreign orders.
    The government must commit to bringing into service at least 10 of these vessels before 2030 to return much needed critical mass and hull numbers to an already overstretched and too small Royal Navy.

  2. (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 ships unlike Rosyth which was historiucally a repair yard. But the decision was made to assemble them in Rosyth, on the ‘wrong’ side of the Country, where an additional £80 Mn was spent to ‘upgrade’ the docks, where we had to buy a huge crane from China that, 7 years later, is now redundant and being sold off on eBay and where we had to add a folding mast to get finished carriers under the Forth Bridge! That Rosyth was the constituency of the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown is something I best not comment on.

    The Clyde has had and will have decades of new build work gauranteed while Rosyth has repair work and decommissioning work on submarines. They have had a good run but its time for others to benefit from UK taxpayer’s money. So sorry Babcock / BMT my vote is with Cammell Laird / BAE given both designs look equally capable ships

    • You should not confine your concerns to a forum. You should engage with the Secretary of State or your MP in writing. To do any other is a waste of time.

      • (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

    • 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 at least a decade. Belfast, Appledore, Merseyside and Tyneside are all very capable yards and assets that are not well used by this country.

        We can achieve this by deciding we will never build any taxpayer funded ship outside the UK ever again. And all this talk of ‘Type 31e exports’ is bunkum becasue we all know none will be built here, even if any country buys it, for the simple reason other countries (especially the USA) adopt a ‘buy at home’ policy. As we should always have done. Tide Class Tankers could and should have been built here. It was the MoD’s focus on ‘Price’ rather than ‘Cost’ that betrayed British shipbuilding. Yet again.

  3. 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 – An extra £50m per RN T31e to procure more than a core spec, e.g. Sea Ceptor as well as CIWS (although why that isn’t cross-decked from T23 at much lower cost I don’t know), box launchers, etc.

    3 – A 6th RN T31e budgeted, perhaps if 1 above isn’t needed. A 6th hull is necessary if the government is to get to the Cameron government’s stated desire to use T31 to actually increase frigate numbers.

    Ultimately though I bet it’s something much more mundane than any of the above (although 1 is pretty mundane already).

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

  5. 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.

    • You should not confine your concerns to a forum. You should engage with the Secretary of State or your MP in writing. To do any other is a waste of time.

      • 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 you have nothing to contribute, don’t. There is more to life than irritating people.

      • (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

          • Reading your other postings leads me to believe you have an unhealthy interest on bodily gasses Chris. Help is available.

          • (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.

  6. 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!

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

    • 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 are you achieving? Therefore I conclude you are Russian, North Korean or from some other hostile state.

    • (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 …

  8. 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.

  9. 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 Rosyth, daft idea. Cammel Laird is the obvious place to build the whole thing, regardless of the design chosen.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.


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