Three shipbuilding teams have been awarded multi-million-pound contracts to push ahead with plans to build five new Type 31e frigates in the UK for the Royal Navy, Defence Minister Stuart Andrew has announced today (Dec. 10) in Portsmouth.
The Minister revealed that teams led by BAE Systems, Babcock and Atlas Elektronik UK have been shortlisted for the competition to build the five frigates for £1.25 billion. Each group has today been awarded a contract worth up to £5 million to fund the next stage of their plans, with the preferred bidder for the design and manufacture of the ships due to announced by the end of next year. The MOD want the first ship delivered in 2023.
Speaking at Her Majesty’s Naval Base in Portsmouth, Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said:
“This is the first frigate competition the UK has run in a generation, and today we are funding three shipbuilding teams with extremely exciting concepts to continue developing their plans. Next year we will announce the winning bidder, and one of these designs will go on to bolster our future fleet with five new ships, creating UK jobs and ensuring our Royal Navy maintains a truly global presence in an increasingly uncertain world.”
The awarding of the contracts is a key milestone in the National Shipbuilding Strategy, which was launched in September 2017. The Strategy met the challenges set by an independent report written by Sir John Parker, a figure with a wealth of leadership and boardroom experience in shipbuilding, and was underpinned by the commitment to build the new Type 31e ships.
The bold Type 31e programme will move through procurement at an unprecedented pace: the vessel will commence production within 3 years of the launch of the programme, far quicker than similar programmes of this type.
The ships will make up the next generation of the Royal Navy fleet, along with eight Type 26 warships which will start being delivered from the mid-2020s. The names of all eight Type 26 frigates have now been announced, and the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has also outlined that they will be homed in Devonport. The decision on where the Type 31e frigates will be based is still to be made.
The Minister made the announcement on-board HMS Diamond, which returned to Portsmouth last month having been in the Mediterranean.
BAE Systems/Cammell Laird Leander frigate
BAE Systems has brought together its warship design and engineering capability and combat systems expertise with Cammell Laird, the commercial shipbuilder, in a Teaming Agreement to bid for the contract to deliver Type 31e, the UK’s adaptable general purpose frigate.
Contrary to the prior agreement, BAE Systems will reportedly act as the prime contractor for the offering but the vessels will be built at Cammell Laird’s facilities.
BAE Systems’ design of this highly capable multi-mission warship demonstrates the flexibility of the ship to meet all warfare roles. Using a flexible mission bay that can be reconfigured at short notice it can perform constabulary, disaster relief, maritime interdiction, counter-piracy and joint taskforce operations.
With a proposed top speed in excess of 25 knots and a range of more than 7,500 miles, BAE Systems’ design is equipped with some of the most modern and effective weapons systems available, and has been designed to operate in international waters, including the Gulf. It is capable of operating both independently for significant periods and as part of a task group, offering enormous value in bringing together allied maritime nations.
The Type 31e design being proposed for the UK Royal Navy will also feature an enhanced BAE Systems combat system. Building on the pedigree of the systems installed across the UK Royal Navy’s fleet this combat system will add enhanced features through its open, secure, flexible and extensive architecture, ensuring it can be upgraded as new technology develops, adapting to ever-evolving threats.
Babcock Arrowhead 140 frigate design
Babcock Team 31 has unveiled Arrowhead 140 as its design for the UK Royal Navy’s new £1.25 billion Type 31e general purpose light frigate programme earlier this year. The Babcock Team 31 is led by Babcock and includes Thales, OMT, BMT, Harland and Wolff and Ferguson Marine.
The Arrowhead 140 design will be based on OMT’s Iver Huitfeldt hull form currently in-service for the Royal Danish Navy. The frigate design is equipped with Thales’ TACTICOS combat management system with fully open architecture.