Royal Navy: Type 31 frigate programme remains on track as Ministry of Defence confirms when the first ship will hit the water

DEFENCE officials have insisted the first of Britain’s new fleet of frigates will ‘be in the water in 2023’ marking a ‘glorious’ new chapter in the nation’s maritime history.

By Tom Cotterill
Monday, 4th April 2022, 2:49 pm

Work is still being carried out on the five new Type 31 frigates, with HMS Venturer set to be the first in class.

The programme, worth £1.25bn, will see all the new vessels entering the water, with one a year from 2023.

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An artist's impression of what the new Type 31 frigates will look like. Photo: Babcock/PA Wire

The ships, worth about £250m apiece, are designed to tackle general purpose missions and are expected to be forward-deployed across the globe.

Though less advanced than the more sophisticated Type 26 frigates, which will be packed with the latest tech to hunt out submarines, the Type 31s will still pack a naval punch.

Expected to be based, initially, in Portsmouth, the ships will be equipped with the Sea Ceptor air defence missile system, a 57mm main gun and two 40mm Bofors guns, as well as a new 4D radar.

To add to the ships’ formidable arsenal, there will also be the option for the Type 31s to carry a host of drone tech and autonomous minehunting equipment, as well as space for ships to operate Merlin or Wildcat helicopters.

Royal Navy leaders and military chiefs join defence secretary Ben Wallace, pictured front right, in Scotland to mark the first cutting of steel on the Type 31 in September, 2021. Photo: MoD

Asked about whether the construction timeline of the ships had changed, following delays to the Type 26 programme, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence insisted: ‘The first ship will be in the water in 2023.

‘The timescales remain unchanged for all five ships to be delivered by the end of 2028.’

Known as the Inspiration-class, the five vessels will replace the ageing fleet of general purpose Type 23 frigates, which have been operating since the early 1990s.

The five frigates will be known as HMS Active, HMS Bulldog, HMS Campbeltown, HMS Formidable, and HMS Venturer.

Work on the first started in September, with Babcock International cutting steel on HMS Venturer at its facility in Rosyth, Scotland.

Speaking last year, the former Second Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, Vice Admiral Nick Hine, said the frigates would form the ‘fulcrum of a formidable future force’ and added: ‘Come 2023 when HMS Venturer slips its bonds and enters the water, I have no doubt it will emulate the trailblazing successes of its forebears and write its own glorious chapter in our nation’s famous maritime history.’

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