Bargain basement Type 31e – the Lidl frigate or an industrial miracle?

The RN published its outline specification for the Type 31e on 7th September this year. The £250 Million-per-ship price cap that has been set for the project is remarkable. If the project can deliver a credible ship at this price it would be something of a miracle and represent the most affordable western frigate design on the international market. The goals of Type 31e can therefore either be seen as ambitious ‘blue sky thinking’ or compromised and unachievable.

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British industry manoeuvring on the Royal Navy’s Type 31e frigate programme

In response to the MoD’s invitation, industry across the UK is now working on a variety of proposals to win the Royal Navy’s Type 31e frigate design and build contract. If the project succeeds in its goal of achieving export orders, the winning consortium could see a sustained flow of construction work and competition is intensifying.

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Steller Systems offers another option for the Type 31 frigate design

Steller Systems, an independent consultancy specialising in naval architecture, has just announced Project Spartan a design proposal to be considered for the Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigate / GPFF project. To date, BAE Systems has submitted 2 outline proposals and BMT Group have submitted their Venator-110. Here we take a brief look at the competing options for the Type 31 design.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth nearing completion in Rosyth

HMS Queen Elizabeth – making good progress

The exact dates of the departure of HMS Queen Elizabeth for sea trials and her subsequent arrival in Portsmouth have been subject of intense media speculation. Briefings last year had given the impression that sea trials would probably be conducted in March 2017, although many journalists overlooked the caveat that timings maybe subject to change. It is now clear that the sea trials date has slipped slightly but disappointment over minor delays must be seen in the context of a very ambitious 8-year building project. There have also been various other rumours about the project circulating, some of which are addressed here.

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Type 31 frigate Venator 110

Type 31 Frigate – unwanted child of austerity or bright hope for a larger fleet?

It is widely accepted that the current total of 19 surface escorts falls far short of what is needed to meet the UK’s strategic aims. With the Type 26 frigate programme now fixed at 8 ships, the only way surface escort numbers are ever going to be increased is to build more of the cheaper Type 31 frigate (General Purpose Frigate – GPFF). The 2015 SDSR committed government to “at least 19” frigates and destroyers but on 4th November 2016, when talking in the context of frigates, the Defence Secretary said “We will have fleet larger than the fleet at the moment”. This is a positive sign and at least suggests intent in government build more than 5 Type 31 frigates.

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How OPVs could be important to the future of the RN (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-part article by John Dunbar who suggests a much greater role could be played by offshore patrol vessels in a future Royal Navy force structure. The role of OPVs in the RN has been a long-standing source of controversy, with many seeing the construction of 5 new OPVs as an unnecessary diversion of money and manpower merely to sustain UK shipbuilding. Concerns also persist about the creation of a two-tier Navy with ‘up-gunned’ OPVs cast in the role of faux frigates lacking genuine fighting capability. This has sometimes precluded full consideration of OPV’s potential.

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HMS Forth OPV

Exclusive: Junior Defence Minister opens up about his shipbuilding heartbreak

On the day HMS Forth is launched we managed to get a transcript of this exclusive interview. Freddie Hackworthy, former defence reporter for the Daily Star talks with Defence Procurement Minister, the Right Honourable Graham Gittins, MP.

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