Type 31 frigate concept drawing
The Type 31s are due to be delivered later this decade (Picture: MOD).
Sea vessels

Explained: The new Type 31 frigates

Type 31 frigate concept drawing
The Type 31s are due to be delivered later this decade (Picture: MOD).

The construction of the UK's Type 31 frigates is officially underway following a keel laying ceremony for HMS Venturer in Scotland.

According to the Royal Navy, the keel laying is the formal moment of construction beginning for the ship, following September's steeling cutting for the Type 31 frigate.

    In November 2020, the Prime Minister announced £16.5bn extra funding for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) over the following four years.

    During the announcement, Boris Johnson said part of the budget would be used to "restore Britain's position as the foremost naval power in Europe", highlighting plans for five Type 31 frigates to continue, as well as those for Type 26s and previously never-before-mentioned Type 32 frigates.

    On 19 May 2021, the MOD announced the names chosen for the five Type 31 frigates - HMS Active, HMS Bulldog, HMS Campbeltown, HMS Formidable and HMS Venturer.

    The vessels, named after famous former ships and submarines from the Royal Navy's past, will be known as the 'Inspiration Class'.

    HMS Active is set to be the second ship in the class, following HMS Venturer.

    What are Type 31 frigates?

    The Type 31 frigate programme is a step in the Government's plan to increase the number of warships in the Royal Navy over the coming decades.

    This specific class of surface warship is expected to first enter service with the Royal Navy by 2027, and replace the Type 23 frigates.

    BAE Systems Bofors naval gun system 011020 CREDIT BAE Systems
    BAE Systems will build and deliver Bofors naval gun systems for the Royal Navy's Type 31s (Picture: BAE Systems).

    The Defence Command Paper last year outlined the Type 31s as "key to our forward presence in the South Atlantic, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Guinea, as well as the Indian and Pacific Oceans".

    The first Type 31 is expected to be in the water within the next three years, with five having been delivered to the Royal Navy by 2028.

    The MOD has commissioned the first batch of five Type 31 frigates, costing about £250m each.

    What capabilities will Type 31 frigates have?

    Regarding weaponry, the Type 31s will also have a 57mm gun, plus two 40mm guns, as well as being fitted with the Sea Ceptor missile system.

    The Navy said in 2020 that BAE Systems would be producing Bofors 40 Mk4 and Bofors 57 Mk3 naval guns for the frigates.

    Each ship is set to come with three Pacific 24 boats, which the Navy says are used for board and search tasks as well as counter-narcotics work.

    	Concept drawing of the Royal Navy's new Type 31 frigate
    The Type 31 frigate will focus on patrols and will be able to carry both Merlin and Wildcat helicopters (Picture: MOD).

    On the flight deck, there will be room to host helicopters as large as the Chinook, although the Navy says the vessels will more likely work with Merlins and Wildcats.

    There will be room for a crew of 187 personnel on each ship.

    Who is building the Type 31 frigates?

    The vessels will be assembled at Babcock's Rosyth facility in Scotland, where construction began on a new assembly hall in 2020, with the aim of housing two Type 31s.

    Watch: The steel was cut on the first Type 31 last year.