It recently surfaced that the Hellenic Navy need was not limited to new-built frigates. Their need is so urgent that they require a “stop-gap” solution (consisting in the procurement of second-hand vessels or a lease of existing vessels) as well as an upgrade to the in-service Hydra-class frigates.
Naval News previously reported on the proposals from Lockheed Martin, Naval Group and Damen. This time around, we contacted Babcock to learn more about the British proposal to Greece. Here is what we learned from Jonathan Walton, Vice President of Business Development, Marine, at Babcock.
Naval News – Can you please tell us about the new frigates you are proposing ? how many, built where and how fast ?
Jonathan Walton – Arrowhead 140 is a proven, intelligent and adaptable frigate primed for Greece.
Its design benefits from its proven ‘wet’ hull-form that has been tried and tested in real-world operational environments from NATO and coalition task forces to national regional and deployed operations. Babcock’s offering provides an efficient and highly effective optimal design with the scope to adapt to specific operational and lay-out requirements.
It’s a low cost, high – value platform perfect for in – country build and future ready for modern, global navies.
Our proposal is for the ships to be built in Greece, however we will ensure the build strategy is sufficiently flexible to protect the schedule and to deliver the Hellenic Navy’s requirement. Our goal is to work with Greek industry to support the reinvigoration of a domestic supply chain, investment in infrastructure to modernise and equip domestic facilities, upskill and grow local workforces and to transfer knowledge and technology.
The platform’s heritage and clever design enhancements enable improved warship capability whilst retaining it proven strengths. International customers also benefit from the design being chosen for the next generation of UK Royal Navy Type 31 frigates through non-recurring expenditure and accurate known costs for design and build delivery.
Functional engineering risks are also reduced, informed by integration challenges that have already been experienced and resolved. The frigate’s smart build credentials mean that it is primed for pre-outfitting with open compartments allowing for rapid assembly, supporting time and cost reduction efficiencies for entry into service.
This is a modular build, an approach which Babcock has proved effective through the construction of the UK Royal Navy’s Aircraft Carriers. This approach optimises the buildability of the ships from design, assuring the effective transfer of a UK design to global shipyards for efficient manufacture and assembly and de-risking the build programme while delivering wider national and regional prosperity.
Our experience in platform refit and maintenance means that we have extensive knowledge of the supportability and usability of platforms and understand fully the effects of design in action.
The Arrowhead 140 design, based on the hull form of the Iver-Huitfeldt class currently in service with the Danish Navy, was selected for the UK Type 31 frigate programme in 2019. This programme in currently underway in Babcock’s Rosyth facility in Scotland.
The steelwork frame for a New Assembly Hall in Rosyth is now complete with its cladding being applied. All major and long lead supply chain contracts have been placed to date representing almost a third of all contracts and nearly 80% of the value. Steel will be cut to begin construction of the first Type 31 by end of 2021, providing assurance of a partner which is primed to deliver.
Naval News – What is your proposal in terms of the “stop gap” solution ? I guess you are probably proposing former Royal Navy Type 23 frigates ?
Jonathan Walton – These are commercial matters between the UK Government, the Greek Government and Babcock International. However we aware that the UK Government and the UK Royal Navy are currently examining available options.
Naval News – What do you porpose for the Hydra-class upgrade ?
Jonathan Walton – For the new ship we are drawing from our close relationships and working with Thales in the UK programme to provide a highly capable and adaptable platform that capitalises upon the Greek experience of operating a Thales CMS.
The Meko upgrade requires a Thales CMS upgrade and we again are working very closely with our Thales colleagues to provide delivery assurance of a highly modern and capable upgrade.
Naval News – What would be the configuration of the Arrowhead for the Hellenic Navy ? Any major differences between this configuration and the Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigate ?
Jonathan Walton – The baseline Arrowhead 140 design can be configured to meet the broad range of operational requirements and profiles a global frigate may be called upon to undertake and adopt. In selecting Arrowhead 140, tailored to Greece’s strategic and operational needs and coupled with a high amount of bespoke equipment and systems variants, the Hellenic Navy would be capitalising upon a fully-developed frigate design and build programme while working alongside a world-class, experienced, warship builder in Babcock, primed to support Greece in the delivery of its naval fleet of the future.
Operational roles will change through the life of the ship. And with a displacement of around 6,000te Arrowhead 140 provides ample space, sufficient flexibility and adaptability for a multi-role capability to meet changing operational needs, ranging from task group and high end warfare operations to constabulary and humanitarian duties.
Arrowhead 140 is able to:
› detect and engage surface ships, aircraft and missiles over the horizon
› detect and engage submarines
› defend convoy ships
› employ active and passive electronic warfare systems
› defend against swarming small boat attacks and UAVs
› carry, deploy, operate and recover autonomous vehicles
The Royal Navy will deploy the Type 31 predominantly in a Maritime Security role. The Hellenic Navy will require its frigates to perform a different range of operational tasks. The Arrowhead 140 platform is uniquely adaptable to accommodate a wide range of systems and equipment needed for multiple naval capabilities, including those required by the Hellenic Navy.
Naval News – Have you visited shipyards in Greece ? Have you identified local partners already ?
Jonathan Walton – We have had discussions with very capable local partners in Greece and plan to hold additional meetings with a view to identifying more and signing MoU’s shortly.
Babcock will bring a comprehensive programme of technology transfer and focused support options, for Greece to construct the Arrowhead 140 frigate in their facilities by optimising their shipyard capability.
Our value-adding packages span the whole product lifecycle from; readying and modernising national infrastructure, design licensing, initiating and developing shipbuilding strategy & delivery, enabling workforce training & upskilling and offering post-delivery support options.
Depending on the transformation required and budget available we can tailor a scalable design and build solution based on the Greek customised requirements which will deliver; technically proficient naval build infrastructure, an industry 4.0 ready workforce, world-class frigates and an enduring support capability.
We offer a highly capable cost effective and tailored approach that drives quality and performance and enables a competitive edge in international shipbuilding.
Working with our Greek colleagues and supply chain we can realise the future naval vision and deliver the capability that will see Arrowhead 140 frigates built in Greek shipyards, by a Greek workforce and contributing directly to the social and economic value, well-being and prosperity of the Greek shipbuilding community and country as a whole.
Naval News – Is the UK government supporting your bid ?
Jonathan Walton – Yes – Babcock International, supported by the UK Government, is forging a game-changing approach to global shipbuilding to offer warship design and build options to the Hellenic Navy for its next generation of new frigates.
This exciting proposal enables the rejuvenation of Greek warship building and will deliver to the Hellenic Navy, the Arrowhead 140, a world-leading, highly capable, adaptable and affordable new frigate.
Naval News – Do you have industry partners for this bid ?
Jonathan Walton – We have a number of industry partners included in Babcock Team 31 which we can draw on to use their experience to ensure we meet the requirements of the Hellenic Navy.
In addition to our question & answer, Jonathan Walton shared the following:
THE ARROWHEAD 140 PLATFORM
Propulsion that’s powered to perform.
The platform has the capability to accommodate a variety of propulsion solutions, according to operational requirement and budget. Arrowhead 140’s size allows sufficient fuel for long-range independent global operations and with sustainability in mind, space and systems are configured for compliance with IMO Tier III regulations for ECAs.
Armaments to equip you to engage
As designed the platform has a range of high-end capabilities. This flexibility allows for the housing of related systems for enhanced air defence, maritime interdiction, self-protection and engagement of surface and land targets. It can host and array of weaponry to defend against saturation attacks by optimising the resource required without comprising the primary missile systems.
Mission systems that are flexible and established
The Arrowhead140 design for the UK requirement incorporates Thales’ TACTICOS™ Combat Management System utilising open architecture networks and computing environments to provide a scalable and upgradeable mission / combat management capability suitable for a wide range of mission profiles and scenarios.
With generous provisioning of combat system compartments and cabling routes throughout the ship, the platform’s design flexibility allows for a choice of command systems that takes into account the Greek preference for combat system components, C4I and CMS systems which can be easily incorporated and integrated into the platform.
Operational flexibility no matter the mission
Arrowhead 140 delivers high levels of operability, adaptability and reliability, providing the Hellenic Navy with operational choice and confidence in operational performance. A multi-mission surface combatant, the frigate is capable of providing force protection, conducting surface, anti-air, anti-submarine and electronic warfare operations, and is operationally highly proficient.
Based on a proven NATO frigate design, it offers flexible spaces able to host disaster relief stores or civilians during evacuation operations amongst other roles. A capability already employed within the in-service design.
Large Boat Bays with flexible launch and recovery capability to operate a variety of different offboard assets, such as RHIBs, Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs); able to deliver a range of roles from interdiction missions to Special Forces operations and littoral manoeuvre exploitation. There is the ability to hold Artic 28 boats measuring 8.7m in length.
Aviation capability choices
The Arrowhead 140 flight deck is designed for a wide range of naval aircraft and air systems, with a hangar that can accommodate an organic medium naval helicopter such as a MH-60 Seahawk combined with unmanned air systems. Dedicated aviation magazine facilities to store and prepare air-launched weapons including ASW torpedoes and Anti-Surface missiles are provided. In addition, a fuelling system to provide HIFR capability from a proven NATO flight deck is incorporated. The large flight deck provides the flexibility to launch and recover non-organic aircraft up to 15t in weight.
Arrowhead 140 can operate with a Ship’s Company of less than 100 personnel. With dedicated accommodation for 180+ personnel and additional temporary accommodation, the platform can carry a significant number of Embarked Military Force, including Special Forces, littoral manoeuvre troops or additional command and control personnel. Its wide beam provides operational flexibility and its space-rich design is efficient to build, and efficient to maintain, with ship stability and crew comfort at its heart. For sailors, Arrowhead 140 will provide a modern place to live, a great place to work and a highly capable multi-role frigate no matter where in the world it operates, making long-term global forward deployment achievable and sustainable.
Expert Support through life
Looking beyond the initial design, build and mobilisation of the frigates, through–life support of the ships is in-built from the beginning. The Babcock through-life support offering assures ship availability and readiness. However the support Babcock provides is not just about technology on its own but importantly includes the integration of people, processes and technology and through novel mobile, remote and connected technology, we can provide the maintainer with an in-depth understanding of the performance, maintenance and material condition of their assets.
This is centred around embedded technology that provides systems and equipment performance monitoring, enabling informed rapid decision making. Arrowhead 140 is designed for performance and through-life support.
For the record, France and Greece were involved in exclusive negotiations for a while, for two FDI type frigates. However, despite the signing of an LOI in October 2019, Greece decided to keep its options open and is now considering several designs. The designs being considered today, in addition to Babcock’s Arrowhead 140, are:
- Lockheed Martin with the MMSC
- Naval Group with the FDI/Belharra
- Damen Sigma 11515
- TKMS with the MEKO A200NG (or MEKO A300)
- Navantia (allegedly with the F-110)
- Fincantieri (allegedly with the FREMM)
The procurement process doesn’t seem to be a “classic open tender” but rather government to government (G to G) discussions with each party.