UK shipbuilding partnership bidding for Royal Navy frigates

UK Government’s Secretary of State for Defence toured Babcock’s Appledore facility in North Devon UK Government’s Secretary of State for Defence toured Babcock’s Appledore facility in North Devon

UK defence contractor Babcock has announced it will lead a bespoke team of industry partners in a bid for the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) new £1.25 billion Type 31e general purpose light frigate programme, building on the success of its role within the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.

Two of the UK’s leading defence suppliers – Babcock and Thales – have joined forces with BMT, Harland & Wolff and Ferguson Marine to form ‘Team 31’. The team will seek to deliver capable, cost-effective and flexible ships to the Royal Navy and, using the team’s considerable international reach, maximise export opportunities.

The announcement comes as the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Defence; The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP toured Babcock’s Appledore facility in North Devon and met with members of its workforce.

Babcock will act as the overall programme lead, while Thales will have overall responsibility for the development of the Mission System solution. Babcock and BMT will develop the designs.

The make-up of the team will ensure that the economic benefits of the programme are shared across the UK. Ferguson Marine on the Clyde, Harland & Wolff in Belfast and the Babcock facilities in Fife and Devon will all have key roles to play, while much of the equipment provided by Thales and others will support jobs across the UK.

The UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy has ushered in a new and exciting era for naval procurement in the UK.  Building on key lessons from the success of the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier programme and the Offshore Patrol Vessel for the Irish Naval Service, the Strategy seeks to maximise UK content, export potential and the cost and programme benefits of a modular build using the breadth of skills and facilities available across the UK.

Team 31’s modular build approach says it will make best use of UK facilities, innovation and skills to deliver a cutting-edge platform that combines capability with value-for-money and advanced technology to afford class-leading levels of availability and operating costs.

Babcock CEO Archie Bethel said: “Team 31 will allow Babcock and Thales to take forward the key lessons from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and apply them in a new and highly capable team with Harland & Wolff, BMT and Ferguson Marine.

“We firmly believe that our combined skills can deliver an affordable and effective Type31e Frigate programme for the Royal Navy and offer something new and exciting in the export market. With a high degree of UK content and the use of innovative technologies, we believe that our approach will deliver real benefits to UK plc.”

By Jake Frith

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