THREE shipbuilding teams have been awarded multi-million-pound contracts to push ahead with plans to build five new Type 31e warships.
Defence Minister, Stuart Andrew, is due to make announcement on-board HMS Diamond at Portsmouth Naval Base today.
The minister revealed that teams led by BAE Systems, Babcock and Atlas Elektronik UK have been shortlisted for the competition to build the five frigates at a cost of £1.25bn .
Mr Andrew said: ‘ This is the first frigate competition the UK has run in a generation and today we are funding three shipbuilding teams with extremely exciting concepts to continue developing their plans.’
Each group will be awarded a contract worth up to £5m to fund the next stage of their development plan, with the preferred bidder for the design and manufacture of the ships due to be announced by the end of next year.
‘Next year we will announce the winning bidder, and one of these designs will go on to bolster our future fleet with five new ships, creating UK jobs and ensuring our Royal Navy maintains a truly global presence in an increasingly uncertain world,’ added Mr Andrew.
The awarding of the contracts is seen as a key milestone in the National Shipbuilding Strategy, which was launched in September 2017. The Strategy recommendations were formulated after an independent report written by Sir John Parker - a figure with a wealth of experience in shipbuilding.
The recommendations highlighted the need to update the vessels currently in use and ensure the construction of the new ships commence within three years of the launch of the programme. The MoD hopes that all frigates are in service by the mid-2020s and have specified they want the first ship ready for delivery by 2023. The ships will make up the next generation of the Royal Navy fleet, along with eight Type 26 warships.
A spokeswoman for BAE Systems said: ‘We are pleased to have been shortlisted for the next stage of the Type 31e programme. Our bid, in partnership with Cammell Laird, combines proven engineering capability, warship design and combat management systems that will deliver critical capability to meet the Royal Navy’s requirements and an attractive proposition for international customers. We remain fully committed to working with the MoD to progress this important programme.’
The decision on where the Type 31e frigates are to be based is still to be made but Portsmouth is one of the options being considered.