UK selects design for Type 31 frigate
The UK has selected the design for the Royal Navy's next class of frigates. Today, at London International Shipping Week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the Arrowhead 140 design from the consortium led by defense firm Babcock will be the basis for the first of five general-purpose Type 31 frigates.
One growing problem that all major navies face is that as technology advances, latest-generation ships become more expensive to build and operate, resulting in fleets that are more capable but shrinking in numbers.
It's one of the reasons why the Royal Navy has shrunk from 900 major warships in 1945 to a little more than 70 today. To avoid the absurd future where it could end up with only one very expensive ship, the British government opened a competition in 2017 to develop a new, inexpensive class of frigates, the Type 31, which is intended to be a general-purpose vessel similar to the Leander class of the 1970s and intended to supplement the more expensive and specialized Type 26 frigates currently under construction.
With a total budget of £1.25 billion (US$1.5 billion) or £250 million (US$308 million) per ship, the first yet-to-be-named frigate will have its keel laid in two years and be launched in 2023. However, the Royal Navy says that Babcock will follow the technique used to build the Queen Elizabeth class supercarriers by building the ships as modules at a number of different British shipyards that will then be moved to Babcock’s yard in Rosyth, Scotland for assembly and fitting out.
In addition to supplying the Navy, the Type 31 is also designed for the export market with several different variants aimed at different markets. Meanwhile, the first five Type 31 frigates will be built without the towed array and the full array of submarine-hunting sensors and systems used by the Type 26s. This means that the Type 31 can take on more general tasks, such as maritime security, defense engagement, fleet escorts, sea patrols around the world, and NATO duties, while the Type 26s concentrate on escorting Britain's nuclear missile submarines in and out of port and defending strike carrier groups.
"These mighty ships will form the next generation of the Royal Navy fleet," says Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. "The Type 31 frigates will be fast, agile and versatile warships, projecting power and influence across the globe. The ships will be vital to the Royal Navy’s mission to keeping the peace, providing life-saving humanitarian aid and safeguarding the economy across the world from the North Atlantic, to the Gulf, and in the Asia Pacific region."
The video below shows the features of the Babcock Type 31 frigate.
Source: Royal Navy