The Type-31 frigate, key to the growth of the British Royal Navy
The steel for the British Royal Navy’s first new Type 31 frigate was cut on September 24, raising hopes that the service could secure a larger fleet of frontline warships in the long term.
With the total number of frigates and destroyers in service with the Royal Navy falling, service is expected to reach an all-time high of 16 to 17 hulls by the mid-to-late 2020s. The five Type 31 “class frigates Inspiration ”is part of the drive to push the total to over 19.
The first ship to be named HMS Adventurer, to be launched by 2023, the next four being at a rate of one per year from 2024. Deliveries of the five vessels are expected to be completed by 2028. Prime contractor Babcock builds the vessels at its facilities of Rosyth, Scotland. .
During the steel cut event, Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hine optimistically tweeted: 5 delivered in less than a decade.
Since most defense procurement programs experience some kind of cost escalation and schedule delay, the expected schedule may not materialize. However, the Type 31 has made good progress over the past two years given the project’s difficult start – it failed its first attempt in July 2018, when no bidder could reach the unit price of $ 336 million.
The Type 31 was designed as part of the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) after the UK Ministry of Defense realized it could not afford to replace all 13 of its frigates. Type 23 Duke class by the new Type 26 City specializing in anti-submarine warfare. -to classify. Instead, he split the purchase and only ordered eight Type 26 ships, with the five Type 31s being designated as General Purpose Frigates.
The National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) that Hine referred to is the UK MoD’s attempt to stop relying on a single shipbuilding company in BAE Systems. BAE Systems builds the Type 26 and delivered most of the Royal Navy’s existing inventory, but the increasing cost of the Type 26 and the old Daring Type 45 class destroyer has led the Department of Defense to try to diversify the base. industrial.
The £ 1.25 billion contract with Babcock for the Type 31 was awarded in November 2019. The contract still has a unit price of $ 336 million, but with the more expensive equipment requirements removed. The actual price per vessel is likely to be much higher.
The company is building the class according to its Arrowhead 140 design, which is based on the Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate of the Royal Danish Navy Odense Maritime Technology. Other Babcock team members include Harland and Wolff, Ferguson Marine, Thales and BMT – extending the supply network across the country to meet NSS demands for increased local industrial content.
But this attempt presents some risk, as a new shipbuilder will have to develop experience in building complex ships like frigates. Babcock has built a new large assembly hall and is capable of housing two Type 31 frigates for parallel construction and assembly activity.
The second ship is expected to start construction next year. The names of the next four ships are HMS active, HMS Bulldog, HMS Campbelltown, HMS Formidable. The Royal Navy is hopeful that its NSS will perform as planned and that the ships will be delivered on time.
Pressure on the Royal Navy is mounting after the UK government’s Integrated Defense Reform Review released in March announced that two of the Type 23 frigates would be retiring prematurely. The old HMS Monmouth (F235) had its refit canceled and the vessel was decommissioned in June. Royal Navy plans to decommission HMS Argyll (F231) in 2023. This reduces the number of ships available for the Royal Navy, as there are still issues with the availability of Type 45 destroyers.
For the benefit of the program, the Type 31 Arrowhead 140 was selected by the Indonesian Navy to be built under license by the state-owned Jakarta shipbuilder PT Pal. It is also offered as one of the design options of the Polish Miecznik (swordfish) frigate program.
More importantly, Babcock is likely to receive a follow-up order for five new Type 32 frigates that have been announced.. These ships will accommodate an unmanned replacement for the Royal Navy minesweepers and mine countermeasures vessels that will be leaving service at the end of the decade.
To keep costs low and keep the production line warm after the Type 31 is completed, the Type 32 will likely be a modified design similar to the Type 31. As the British Royal Navy prepares for a larger fleet, it will have s ” strive to ensure that its frigate programs operate as intended.