Babcock press release
Hosted at Babcock’s facility in Rosyth, Scotland, where the Type 31 Inspiration class ships are being built, representatives from across UK and international industry and public service, witnessed the historic ceremony signalling the official start of the build programme alongside employees and representatives from the local community.
The frigates will be at the heart of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet, deterring aggression and maintaining the security of the UK’s interests as well as providing humanitarian relief when needed. The frigates will work alongside the UK’s Allies to deliver a warship presence across the globe and enable a forward naval presence.
The symbolic first cut of steel for HMS VENTURER was conducted at Babcock’s new advanced manufacturing facility, a cornerstone of the company’s digital transformation at Rosyth, which includes panel lines with robotic welding capability, as well as other semi-automated manufacturing machines.
The technology, based on modern shipbuilding practices, enables Babcock to increase automation and create significant efficiencies in the build schedule. The event comes just one week after Babcock announced that it had secured the first export contract for its Arrowhead 140 frigate (the export variant of the UK Type 31 platform) through a design licence agreement with PT PAL Indonesia (Persero) for two frigates. The company has also been shortlisted as one of the bidders to provide a potential design solution for Poland’s Miecznik (Swordfish) frigate programme.
The event also saw Babcock’s new assembly hall named ‘The Venturer Building’ – paying homage to the first new class of frigates to be built in the facility.
This vast structure measuring 147m x 62m x 42m is capable of housing two Type 31 frigates for parallel build and assembly activity. It will enable uninterrupted assembly, supporting increased productivity gains through improved access and digital connectivity.
The new infrastructure forms part of a £60 million investment programme on the site, on top of a further £100 million that has been invested over the last decade to ensure Rosyth’s shipbuilding capability and capacity can be optimised with state of the art engineering infrastructure and digital innovation to support further opportunities.
Babcock CEO David Lockwood said:
“This is a significant moment. We are witnessing what the National Shipbuilding strategy can achieve. Working with our partners and customers, we are creating something we can all be very proud of. The T31 Class will show the adaptability and capability of a modern warship created with British ingenuity and engineering at its core. I’m looking forward to seeing these magnificent vessels emerge from our newly-named Venturer Building.”
Defence Secretary and Shipbuilding Tsar Ben Wallace said:
“Today is a momentous occasion for the Type 31 programme, Defence and the shipbuilding industry in Scotland. As Shipbuilding Tsar, to cut the steel for the first of five new frigates that will be constructed here on our shores in the Firth of the Forth, providing jobs and innovation to the area, is a tremendous honour.
“Equipped with the technologies at the forefront of the Royal Navy’s future vision, the entire Type 31 fleet will be fitted with a range of capabilities allowing it to undertake a variety of operations at sea.”
A direct UK workforce of around 1,250 people will be employed on the programme at its height, including 150 apprenticeships, and a further 1,250 in the supply chain. This meets the aims of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, by delivering local and national, social and economic benefits through investing in its supply chain and the next generation of apprentice and graduates, whilst sustaining highly skilled workforces in multiple locations throughout the UK. The first ship is expected to be in the water in 2023 with all five ships delivered by 2028.”
Naval News comments:
The Type 31 / Arrowhead 140 is based on the proven Iver Huitfeldt-class of frigate of the Royal Danish Navy, designed by OMT, and adapted to Royal Navy requirement by Babcock and BMT. Thales will supply the combat management system of the Type 31. The frigates will be assembled at Babcock’s Rosyth facility, and involve supply chains throughout the UK, in line with the UK’s shipbuilding strategy.
First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin earlier this year announced the names of the Type 31 / Inspiration-class frigates. The new class will replace five general-purpose Type 23 frigates which have served the Royal Navy since the early 1990s. The first steel is due to be cut on the ships this summer and all five are due to be in service by 2028, operating alongside Type 26 or City-class frigates which will be dedicated submarine hunters and will replace the equivalent specialist Type 23s.
Type 31 / Inspiration-class frigate main specifications:
|Length||138.7 m (455 ft 1 in)|
|Installed power||4 × Rolls Royce/MTU 20V 8000 M71 (8.2 MW) diesel engines|
4 × Rolls Royce/MTU 16V 2000 M41B (900 kW) generators
|Propulsion||CODAD configuration, two shafts|
|Endurance||9,000 nautical miles|
|Complement||80 to 100 sailors (accommodation for up to 160)|
Type 31 / Inspiration-class frigate weapons systems:
- TACTICOS combat management system
- 12x VLS for CAMM / Sea Ceptor surface to air missiles
- 1x 57mm (Bofors 57Mk3) main gun
- 2x 40mm (Bofors 40Mk4) secondary guns
- Hangar and flight deck for a Wildcat or Merlin helicopter