UK Picks Babcock to Build Next-Generation Frigates

Babcock's Arrowhead 140 design, the future Type 31 frigate (Royal Navy)

Published Sep 13, 2019 6:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

The UK has selected a winner in the competition for the Royal Navy's new Type 31 frigate. The winning bid - the Arrowhead 140 - was submitted by a consortium led by defense firm Babcock, and it beat out two other competing consortia to secure the contract. Thales contributed to the Babcock design. 

Babcock will now build five of the new general purpose frigates, which will serve alongside eight upgraded Type 26 frigates currently under construction at BAE's yard on the Clyde. The Type 31 will replace the existing Type 23 frigates – HMS Lancaster, Argyll, Monmouth, Montrose and Iron Duke  – which are reaching the end of their service lives.

The first ship will be laid down in two years’ time and launched in 2023, with the entire class completed by 2028. Each ship will have an average production cost of just $310 million, less even than the U.S. Navy's budget-oriented littoral combat ships, which fall below the typical definition of a frigate in capability. 

The Type 31 will be built in segments and assembled at Babcock’s yard in Rosyth, the same process used for the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth-class carriers. The firm believes that around 2,500 people across the UK will be employed in the construction of the ships, including positions in the supply chain. Around 150 new technical apprenticeships will be created building the five vessels.  

“It has been a tough competition and we are absolutely delighted that Arrowhead 140 has been recognized as offering the best design, build and delivery solution,” said Archie Bethel, CEO of Babcock. “It is a modern warship that will meet the maritime threats of today and tomorrow, with British ingenuity and engineering at its core.”

The formal award is expected later this year, following additional talks between the Ministry of Defense, Babcock and its supply chain partners.