Royal Navy: 'Good progress' being made Type 31 frigate industry chiefs insist
STEEL will soon be cut on a new breed of warship which has been heralded as the future ‘heart’ of the Royal Navy by military top brass.
Bosses behind the Type 31 project have set themselves the ambitious target for next year after speeding through key development milestones over the past year.
Unlike other industries, the coronavirus pandemic has failed to steer the £1.25bn warship-build off course, as the army of some 400 workers continued to design the new frigates from home.
And leaders behind the defence scheme have insisted they are nearing the end of the detailed design stage - a key hurdle in any new ship build.
Graeme Thomson, the Type 31 programme director at aerospace firm Babcock – which is leading the team building the warships – said ‘good progress’ on the vessels’ design had been made, adapting a model from the Danish Navy’s fleet to be the ‘basis’ of the new frigate.
‘We are also working on a number of other fronts, Apart from just progressing the design work, having completed functional design in June 2020, we’re now in detailed design and developing that model, production outputs and delivery ready to start construction in 2021,’ he said.
The deal to build the general purpose frigate was signed in November, 2019.
Contractors have pledged to construct five vessels at an ambitious cost of £250m per frigate.
It’s hoped that once completed, the ships will act as a general purpose frigates, replacing the ageing Type 23’s based in Portsmouth.
Commander David Jones, who is part of the Royal Navy team working on the future frigates, said the Type 31s had great potential.
‘The Type 31 project is a great opportunity, not just for the Royal Navy but for everyone involved,’ he added in a video update on Babcock's website.
‘Designed to succeed in a wide variety of tasks, they will be on the front line of the navy’s surface fleet for years to come.
‘Whether operating independently or as part of a balanced task group, they will be at the forefront of our efforts, delivering persistent forward presence across the globe, alongside our allies, to address emerging threats, protect UK interests and assist those in need.’
A new state-of-the-art shiphall is currently being developed in Rosyth, Scotland, capable of housing two of the frigates.
Hi-tech virtual-reality and augmented-reality kit is also being developed to help with the design and build of the ships.
Rear Admiral Paul Marshall said the project had already celebrated a ‘key milestone’ – the start of the development of the frigate’s combat management system.
‘I’m most proud of the fact that the Royal Navy and DNS, our acquisition authority, have been willing to challenge “orthodoxy” to do things differently, to really work with industry to get a better outcome in terms of the budget we have got, to maximise the capability as a result.’
It’s hoped that 75 per cent of the supply chain needed to build the five vessels will come from UK firms, supporting 1,250 roles nationwide.
Armed with Sea Ceptor missiles and with a core crew of 105 sailors, the first Type 31 is expected to be in the water in 2023, with all five delivered by 2028.