BAE Systems computerised image of future Type 31e frigate CREDIT BAE SYSTEMS.jpg

A computer-generated image of how the Type 31e frigates could look (Picture: BAE Systems).

Sea vessels

Babcock Set For Type 31 Contract To 'Bring Shipbuilding Home'

The five ships will be assembled at its Rosyth Dockyard in Fife.

BAE Systems computerised image of future Type 31e frigate CREDIT BAE SYSTEMS.jpg

A computer-generated image of how the Type 31e frigates could look (Picture: BAE Systems).

Engineering company Babcock has been named the preferred bidder for the £1.3 billion contract to build the latest fleet of Royal Navy Type 31 frigates.

The firm is set to build their Arrowhead 140 design concepts in Fife, involving supply chains throughout the UK, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to "bring shipbuilding home".

The Government has committed to buying at least five of the low-cost warships, also known as the Type 31e, for the Royal Navy, with the first vessel expected to be in the water by 2023.

The plan is for the ships to eventually make up the next generation of the Royal Navy, along with eight Type 26 warships.

Design work on the Type 31 will begin later in the financial year, with manufacture set to commence in 2021 at a cost of around £250 million per ship.

The UK also hopes to export the frigates to governments around the world.

The Prime Minister 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."

More than 2,500 jobs across the UK are expected to be supported as a result of the Type 31 programme, including 150 jobs for new technical apprenticeships.

Type 31e BAE design
The process to find a contractor to build the vessels was put on hold due to insufficient competition (Picture: BAE Systems).

The ship is set to have a "range of peacekeeping, humanitarian and war-fighting capabilities", according to Archie Bethel, Babcock Chief Executive. He said:

"Arrowhead 140 is a modern warship that will meet the maritime threats of today and tomorrow, with British ingenuity and engineering at its core."

The ships will be built exclusively in the UK and different elements of the frigates will be assembled and made at various British shipyards.

"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," Mr Johnson added.

First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin told Forces News the first Type 31e frigate would be in the water by 2023, with all five ready by 2028.

"We badly need these ships because they are going to replace some of our older Type 23s," he said.

"What we're getting is a big, proven, fantastic frigate which has adaptability at the very core.

"That's what excites me - we're going to get ships that are going to be reliable, proven technology, but also with the ability to host UUVs - unmanned underwater vehicles, UAVs - drones, and allow us to accept some of the most exciting things with technology and have them in a brand new frigate."

First Sea Lord: Royal Navy badly needs Type 31 frigates.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been appointed as the Government's new shipbuilding tsar to enhance the UK's shipbuilding enterprise.

He will look at how the Government can use further education, skilled apprenticeships and graduates to achieve a sustainable skills base for British shipbuilding across the UK.

Mr 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 vessels will be fitted with the world-leading Sea Ceptor missile system, a range of highly advanced weapon and sensor systems and a combat system with a 4D air and surface surveillance and target indication radar.

They will also have capabilities to operate with a Merlin or Wildcat helicopter.