Type 31 frigate design
Sea vessels

What Are Type 31 Frigates?

Each Type 31 frigate will cost about £250m, with the first expected to be delivered by the end of the decade.

Type 31 frigate design

The Prime Minister in November announced £16.5bn extra funding for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) over the next four years.

During the announcement, Boris Johnson said part of the budget will 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 eight Type 26s and never-before-mentioned Type 32 frigates.

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 next 20 years.

This specific class of surface warship is expected to enter service with the Royal Navy in the 2020s and replace the current Type 23 frigates.

The Defence Command Paper 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.

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

What characteristics will Type 31 frigates have?

The first batch of vessels will be fitted with the 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.

Naval guns will also be featured on the ships, with defence giant BAE Systems in charge of producing and delivering a set of "advanced" and "multi-purpose" gun systems for the five vessels.

Those include five Bofors 57 Mk3 medium calibre guns and 10 Bofors 40 Mk4 small calibre guns, according to BAE Systems.

Type 31s will also have capabilities to operate with Merlin or Wildcat helicopters.

New Type 31 assembly hall progress at Rosyth (Picture: Royal Navy).

Who is building the Type 31 frigates?

Ship assembly begins this year, according to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

They will be assembled at Babcock's Rosyth facility in Scotland, where a new assembly hall will be able to house two Type 31s.

Babcock's new building will be 147m long with 30m-high 'megadoors' and can accommodate the assembly of two vessels side by side at the same time, according to the MOD.

Construction company Robertson was awarded a £31.5m contract for the project by the defence firm.

In September 2019, Babcock was named the preferred bidder for the contract to build the fleet of Type 31s.

Two months later, Babcock confirmed it had been awarded the £1.25bn deal to supply the MOD with its Type 31 fleet.

In 2020, the MOD announced the Type 31 frigate programme had passed a significant milestone in its development, with an extensive review of the ship’s design having been completed.

The Whole Ship Preliminary Design Review lasted 10 days and was conducted virtually by 15 experts.

Cover image: Type 31 frigate design (Picture: Babcock).