First Steel Cut for Royal Navy Type 31 Programme
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Sept. 23, 2021)
(UK MoD infographic)
LONDON --- Steel was today cut for HMS Venturer, the first vessel of the Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigates that will be at the centre of its surface fleet.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace officially cut steel for the UK’s newest warship, during a ceremony held at Rosyth dockyard. The event marks 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 and 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.

Shipbuilding Tsar and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ““Today is a momentous occasion for the Type 31 programme, Defence and the shipbuilding industry in Scotland. As Shipbuilding Tsar, 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 area, 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.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: "It's hugely exciting to see construction of the first of the British military's new Type 31 warships beginning at Babcock's Rosyth dockyard on the Firth of the Forth.

"When complete HMS Venturer - and the rest of the five Scottish built fleet - will help protect the UK and our NATO allies and provide humanitarian support.

"This £1.25 billion investment, alongside the Type 26 programme by BAE Systems on the River Clyde at Govan, is boosting our country's prosperity through supporting thousands of jobs and enhancing Scotland's reputation as a world leader in shipbuilding."

The newest of 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 4D radar system and able to house a Royal Navy helicopter.

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 across the globe.

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 remaining 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 our 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, accompanied by the Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin and Director General Ships Vice Admiral Chris Gardner of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), 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.

Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Nick Hine said: “This is an exciting time for the Royal Navy. The Type 31 represents the very best of British shipbuilding and with its modular design will be configurable to meet the needs of both the Royal Navy and our allies around the world, now and into the future.

“Type 31s will operate across the globe with sustained forward presence, further signifying our intent of being a global navy and the foremost naval power in Europe.”

Director General Ships at Defence Equipment & Support, Vice Admiral Chris Gardner said: “I am incredibly proud of the Type 31 team at DE&S who worked tirelessly to deliver the contract award in timescales unprecedented for a procurement of its size and complexity.

“The pace and agility of the team and their close working relationship with industry has meant that now, less than two years later, we have witnessed the start of production of a vessel that will play a pivotal role in the Royal Navy fleet and inspire a new UK shipbuilding renaissance through realising the goals of the national Shipbuilding Strategy.”

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. The Type 31 will carry a crew of up to 105 that will be deployed on duties around the world, working alongside new Type-26 frigates.

Its design is based on Babcock’s Arrowhead 140 which has already attracted international export opportunities. Babcock signed the first export contract with PT Pal of Indonesia, at this year’s DSEI and is also one of the bidders down selected to provide a potential design solution for the Polish Navy’s Miecznik (Swordfish) frigate programme.

The Type 31 is the first warship competition for over a decade, with the initial contract award by DE&S marking a significant achievement of meeting the challenges outlined by Sir John Parker in the National Ship Building Strategy, announced in September 2017.


Background notes:
-- Babcock was awarded the contract by the MOD to deliver the five Type 31 vessels in November 2019.
-- DE&S is the procurement arm of the MOD.

Type 31 at a glance:
* Average production cost: £250 Million
* Length: 138.7m
* Displacement: 6,000+te
* Max speed: 28+ knots
* Main engine power 32+MW
* Fuel range: >7,000 Nautical Miles
* Endurance: 1-2 months
* Crew: 105

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Babcock Cuts Steel for Royal Navy’s Type 31 Frigate HMS Venturer at Rosyth
(Source: Babcock International; issued Sept. 23, 2021)
Babcock, the aerospace, defence and security company, was joined by UK Secretary of State for Defence and Shipbuilding Tsar, Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP to cut the first steel for the first of the Royal Navy’s five new Type 31 frigates, HMS VENTURER.

Hosted at Babcock’s facility in Rosyth, Scotland, where the Type 31 Inspiration class ships are being built, representatives from across UK and international industry and public service, witnessed the historic ceremony signalling the official start of the build programme alongside employees and representatives from the local community.

The frigates will be at the heart of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet, deterring aggression and maintaining the security of the UK’s interests as well as providing humanitarian relief when needed. The frigates will work alongside the UK’s Allies to deliver a warship presence across the globe and enable a forward naval presence.

The symbolic first cut of steel for HMS VENTURER was conducted at Babcock’s new advanced manufacturing facility, a cornerstone of the company’s digital transformation at Rosyth, which includes panel lines with robotic welding capability, as well as other semi-automated manufacturing machines.

The technology, based on modern shipbuilding practices, enables Babcock to increase automation and create significant efficiencies in the build schedule.

The event comes just one week after Babcock announced that it had secured the first export contract for its Arrowhead 140 frigate (the export variant of the UK Type 31 platform) through a design licence agreement with PT PAL Indonesia (Persero) for two frigates. The company has also been shortlisted as one of the bidders to provide a potential design solution for Poland’s Miecznik (Swordfish) frigate programme.

The event also saw Babcock’s new assembly hall named ‘The Venturer Building’ – paying homage to the first new class of frigates to be built in the facility.

This vast structure measuring 147m x 62m x 42m is capable of housing two Type 31 frigates for parallel build and assembly activity. It will enable uninterrupted assembly, supporting increased productivity gains through improved access and digital connectivity.

The new infrastructure forms part of a £60 million investment programme on the site, on top of a further £100 million that has been invested over the last decade to ensure Rosyth’s shipbuilding capability and capacity can be optimised with state of the art engineering infrastructure and digital innovation to support further opportunities.

Babcock CEO David Lockwood said: “This is a significant moment. We are witnessing what the National Shipbuilding strategy can achieve. Working with our partners and customers, we are creating something we can all be very proud of. The T31 Class will show the adaptability and capability of a modern warship created with British ingenuity and engineering at its core. I’m looking forward to seeing these magnificent vessels emerge from our newly-named Venturer Building.”

Defence Secretary and Shipbuilding Tsar Ben Wallace said: “Today is a momentous occasion for the Type 31 programme, Defence and the shipbuilding industry in Scotland. As Shipbuilding Tsar, 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 area, is a tremendous honour.

“Equipped with the 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.”

A direct UK workforce of around 1,250 people will be employed on the programme at its height, including 150 apprenticeships, and a further 1,250 in the supply chain. This meets the aims of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, by delivering local and national, social and economic benefits through investing in its supply chain and the next generation of apprentice and graduates, whilst sustaining highly skilled workforces in multiple locations throughout the UK. The first ship is expected to be in the water in 2023 with all five ships delivered by 2028.

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A Flash of Inspiration As Work Starts on First Type 31, HMS Venturer
(Source: Royal Navy; issued Sept. 23, 2021)
The Royal Navy today enters the age of the Type 31 as work began on HMS Venturer, the first of five ships ‘at the fulcrum of the future fleet’.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace set the cutters at work on steel for the lead ship in the Inspiration class in a brand-new assembly hall in Rosyth.

In just two years’ time Venturer will be in the water. In seven she’ll be joined by sisters Active, Bulldog, Campbeltown and Formidable.

With work under way on Venturer – named after the WW2 submarine which made history by torpedoing a U-boat while both were submerged – it means Britain’s shipyards are producing two new classes of frigate for the front-line fleet for the first time in more than 30 years.

Just three dozen miles away in Govan, the first three Type 26 frigates, led by HMS Glasgow, are taking shape.

They will replace the souped-up submarine-hunting Type 23s coming to the end of their active lives over the next 15 years, while Venturer and her four sisters will succeed the general duty 23s, such as HMS Montrose.

As such they will be expected to perform duties around the globe as varied as those backbone ships: submarine detection, interception and disruption of illegal activity at sea, intelligence gathering, defence engagement and providing humanitarian support.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace gets the steel cutting working on HMS Venturer

Each of the Inspiration class – so called because either their deeds or the ingenuity of their designers are milestones in RN history – will be equipped with the Sea Ceptor air defence missile system, a 57mm main gun and two 40mm Bofors, a 4D radar and carry a helicopter up to Merlin size.

They will also be able to carry the planned Persistent Operational Delivery Systems or PODS which are at the heart of future Royal Navy operations, a ‘plug and play box of tricks’ carrying drones, autonomous minehunting equipment, a command centre for commando raiders or humanitarian aid – whatever is needed for a particular mission, all packed into a container-sized box which is easy to deploy and install.

“This is an exciting time for the Royal Navy. The Type 31 represents the very best of British shipbuilding and with its modular design will be configurable to meet the needs of both the Royal Navy and our allies around the world, now and into the future,” said Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hine.

“Type 31s will operate across the globe with sustained forward presence further signifying our intent of being a global navy and the foremost naval power in Europe.”

All five Inspiration-class ships are being built by Babcock for £250m apiece, with the programme supporting 1,250 existing jobs on the Forth, a similar number in the supply chain throughout the UK, and will create 150 new apprenticeships.

Having toured the new facility at Rosyth, Mr Wallace said Venturer offered a glimpse of the future Royal Navy.

“These frigates will form the fulcrum of a formidable future force made up of: destroyers, new autonomous mine-hunting capability, new Fleet solid support ships, multi-role ocean surveillance and Bay-class support ships, next-generation nuclear submarines and our two magnificent carriers.

“Come 2023 when HMS Venturer slips its bonds and enters the water, I have no doubt it will emulate the trailblazing successes of its forebears and write its own glorious chapter in our nation’s famous maritime history.”

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