RogerBW's Blog

The Return of the Type 31 14 September 2019

Last year I said "I suspect this project will be quietly forgotten and the Navy will shrink again", but apparently I was wrong.

The Babcock/BMT "Arrowhead 140" bid has been selected, based on the hull of the Danish Ivar Huitfeldt frigates. Those aren't terrible little ships, though they cost US$325m each (£246m at the exchange rate of the time), even though they were constructed in Lithuania and Estonia and reused weapons from older ships rather than paying for new ones. I see absolutely no way these ships are going to meet the £250m "hard" cost limit, and I don't think anyone involved can seriously believe it either.

It's still not at all clear how these ships are to be fitted out, though, so they may just skimp on everything and trust the Navy to improvise round the problems.

My main concern is that the Ivar Huitfeldt is based on the Absalon support ship, and therefore (like the ghastly American Littoral Combat Ship) built basically to commercial standards of survivability: take a hit, abandon ship. Which may be sufficient for the intended peacetime tasks, but it's not what you want of a ship that's supposed to be a bit more grunty than a standard patrol vessel (and which the government will send into harm's way because that's what they always do; they see "warship" and think "OK, that's a warship").

Three Ministers for Defence Procurement have taken up the post since this project was mooted in 2017. None of them had any military or procurement experience when they started the job.

Tags: naval type 31

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