Three shipbuilders have been shortlisted to build five new Type 31e frigates on behalf of the Royal Navy, Defence Minister Stuart Andrew has announced.
The teams – led by BAE Systems, Babcock and Atlas Elektronik – have each been awarded £5 million to take their proposals to the next stage, with a preferred bidder due to be announced towards the end of 2019. The Ministry of Defence hopes to have the first Type 31e delivered by 2023.
Speaking at Her Majesty’s Naval Base in Portsmouth, Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said: “This is the first frigate competition the UK has run in a generation, and today we are funding three shipbuilding teams with extremely exciting concepts to continue developing their plans. Next year we will announce the winning bidder, and one of these designs will go on to bolster our future fleet with five new ships, creating UK jobs and ensuring our Royal Navy maintains a truly global presence in an increasingly uncertain world.”
The announcement is a major milestone for the National Shipbuilding Strategy, which initially launched in September 2017. That strategy formed a response to an independent report authored by shipbuilding specialist Sir John Parker, and outlined a commitment to build new Type 31e ships.
It’s thought that the Type 31e programme will move through procurement at an unprecedented pace. Production will begin within three years of the programmes launch, far quicker than that of a similar programme.
These ships will make up the next generation of the Royal Navy fleet, along with eight Type 26 warships which will be delivered from the mid-2020s. The names of all eight Type 26 frigates have now been revealed, and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed that they will be based in Devonport. The home of the Type 31e frigate has yet to be decided however.
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