Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (pictured below) officially cut steel for the UK’s latest warship, HMS Venturer, a Type 31 frigate, during a ceremony held at Rosyth dockyard yesterday. The event marked a significant milestone in the programme for the Royal Navy, defence and shipbuilding in Scotland, with all five vessels to be built by Babcock
on the Firth of the Forth at an average production cost of £250 million per vessel.
Deemed the lead programme of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the construction of the fleet will support around 1,250 highly-skilled jobs at Babcock and see the creation of an additional 150 apprenticeships. A further 1,250 roles in the UK supply chain are also expected to be supported by the programme.
Mr Wallace said: “Today is a momentous occasion for the Type 31 programme, defence and the shipbuilding industry in Scotland. To cut the steel for the first of five new frigates that will be constructed here on our shores in the Firth of the Forth, providing jobs and innovation to the are, is a tremendous honour.
“Equipped with the innovative technologies at the forefront of the Royal Navy’s future vision, the entire Type 31 fleet will be fitted with a range of capabilities allowing it to undertake a variety of operations at sea.”
The latest addition to the Royal Navy’s frigate fleet will undertake a variety of roles on operations including interception and disruption of illegal activity at sea, intelligence gathering, defence engagement and providing humanitarian support.
The Type 31 will be equipped with innovative technology and will benefit from advanced capabilities fitted onboard, including MBDA’s Sea Ceptor, a supersonic anti-air missile defence system, as well as a 57mm and two 40mm Bofors naval guns, a 4-D radar system and able to house a Royal Navy helicopter.Agility and flexibility
With agility and flexibility integral to its design, the Type 31 weapon systems will also be adapted throughout its lifespan to counter future threats and ensure each ship can be equipped to deliver a forward naval presence around the world.
Known as the Inspiration class, the five Type 31 vessels all take their names from former warships and submarines whose missions and history are intended to inspire Royal Navy operations, as well as a representation of its future vision. The four other ships in the Class were recently announced as HMS Active, HMS Formidable, HMS Bulldog and HMS Campbeltown.
Constructed in 1942, the original HMS Venturer was a World War Two V-class submarine that most notably was the first to sink another submarine, a German U-boat, while both were submerged using its technological and intelligence advantage over the enemy. Almost 80 years later since construction started on the original HMS Venturer, its Type 31 depiction draws on its historical achievements and aims to promote the Royal Navy’s technological and innovative forward-look.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin said: “Type 31, built at Rosyth and supporting over 2,000 jobs, is a hugely important future capability for the Royal Navy and represents a significant export opportunity to friends and allies overseas.”
As announced by the Prime Minister last November, defence has received an increase in funding of over £24 billion across the next four years, enabling the UK’s armed forces to adapt to meet future threats of which the Type 31 will form a part.
Enhanced by commitments outlined in the Defence Command Paper
, the new frigates will form part of the Royal Navy Integrated Force 2030 vision and will replace the five general-purpose Type-23 frigates currently in service with the Royal Navy.
During his visit to the Rosyth dockyard, the Defence Secretary also unveiled a plaque to mark the formal commissioning of Babcock’s new Assembly Hall. As part of a wider £35 million site investment by Babcock, the ‘state of the art’ and digitised facility will be capable of housing two Type 31 vessels alongside each other during their build phase.
The entire Type 31 fleet is expected to be delivered by the end of 2028 and to enter service with the Royal Navy by the end of 2030, with the first expected in the water in 2023.