Type 31 frigate

Babcock has started construction of the first of five Royal Navy Type 31 frigates, HMS Venturer, at its Rosyth facility.

HMS Venturer
Keel laying for Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigate showcases Babcock workforce

After cutting the first steel on the programme in September 2021, the traditional keel laying event formally recognised the start of the build, including placing a specially commissioned coin under the keel. On completion of the ship, the coin will be presented to the captain and crew.

The ceremony was held in the new build hall, the Venturer Building, which forms part of a £60 million investment programme, on top of an additional £100 million over the last ten years.

The fully covered hall will house two frigates for uninterrupted, parallel assembly and will support increased productivity gains through improved access to the platforms and digital connectivity.

All of this underpins Rosyth’s shipbuilding capabilities and maximises the benefits of state-of-the-art engineering infrastructure and digital innovation.

The Type 31 programme is an important part of the shipbuilding pipeline set out in the National Shipbuilding Strategy that was refreshed last month.  The strategy’s stated vision for ‘a globally successful, innovative and sustainable shipbuilding enterprise’ is being borne out in Rosyth, with the company investing in and accelerating its ship building prowess and ambitions.

Guests from the Royal Navy, Ministry of Defence and other partners joined Babcock at the event and watched a short film celebrating the role of Rosyth’s workforce. Showcasing its We are Delivering Inspiration theme, Babcock shone a spotlight on the talent and motivations of team members working on the programme and how they are helping to progress the build.

The event comes just over one month since Babcock secured its second export contract for its Arrowhead 140 frigate (the export variant of the UK Type 31 platform) with the company announced as the platform design provider and technology partner for Poland’s MIECZNIK (Swordfish) new frigate programme. Babcock had previously secured a design licence agreement with PT PAL Indonesia (Persero) to enable PAL to build two Arrowhead 140 frigates in Indonesia with bespoke design modifications for the Indonesian Navy.

Sean Donaldson, Babcock Managing Director at Rosyth said: «The keel laying ceremony for the future HMS Venturer was a great occasion as we joined with our customer and colleagues to mark this milestone. It’s my privilege to work with this talented team each day and to witness their drive, determination and relentless pursuit of quality. A big well done to our competition winner Josh Duffy, who designed the coin that we had minted for the keel laying ceremony and whose mum works for Babcock at Rosyth and to our apprentices Ian Stevenson and Naimh Charleston for a flawless job laying down the coin».

Dan Bishop, Director Ships Acquisition DE&S said: «It’s great to be here today at the Type 31 Keel laying ceremony. This is a great example of successful delivery through co-operative working. The Royal Navy and DE&S worked in unison to set the Type 31 requirement and have successfully championed a new competitive procurement process – the first major warship procurement in a generation to meet this challenge. We’re really proud to work alongside Babcock to deliver this capability for the Royal Navy. Today marks a significant milestone in the programme for the Royal Navy, Defence and shipbuilding in Scotland and it’s great to see the first of the British military’s new Type 31 warships keel being laid at Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard».

Type 31 Design
Type 31 Design


Flexible and established systems

Arrowhead 140 offers a highly exportable capability, incorporating the world’s navies preferred combat systems, the best of UK naval systems technology and will bring into the UK additional naval capability through technology transfer, helping to sustain 1,500 roles in the UK and with the potential to create a further 500 new roles.

Combat Management System – Thales TACTICOS, sustainable in the UK through technology transfer, with a 25-year service history and already exported to 24 navies globally onto 182 different ships in over 42 classes. M-Cube is the version of TACTICOS already exported from the UK by Thales for Mine Hunting applications. TACTICOS’ six-monthly software upgrades and in-service support package deliver continuous evolution and growth in functionality, making Arrowhead 140 a flexible platform to meet changing needs over its lifetime. The productised approach reduces through life costs and will negate the need for upgrade through replacement. TACTICOS is scalable and its open architecture is certified. Its modularity means additional mission profiles such as Anti Air Warfare (AAW) or Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) can be integrated with ease.

Mast solutions and radars – over 230 systems in use with more than 20 navies, sustainable in the UK through technology transfer. These include the 4D AESA S-band Surveillance Radar: Thales’s NS100 dual-axis multi-beam family (23 radars sold in and outside NATO as of February 2019). These software-defined, fully digital surveillance radars are «future proof» and provide a leap forward in performance and technology, while retaining all the benefits from the ubiquitous best-selling 3D SMART-S single-axis multi-beam family (85 sold to 20 nations, including eight NATO member states).

Naval Communications solutions from Thales in the UK – leveraging our experience through providing integrated open architecture communications solutions fleet-wide use across 55 Royal Navy Platforms.

Electronic Warfare solutions from Thales in the UK – Arrowhead 140 will benefit from the latest world leading EW capability, Vigile D, developed by Thales in the UK and co-funded by the UK MOD to overcome the threats presented in the current congested EMC environment. Thales EW solutions are already in use with 40 navies worldwide.

Anti-Submarine Warfare – Thales in the UK is a global leader in the provision of sonar systems, as evidenced by the recent selection of the Thales 2087 sonar suite by the Royal Australian Navy. This will be a key offering for exports of Arrowhead 140. More than 50 surface ships are equipped with UK designed and delivered sonar solutions.

Lightweight Multi-role Missile – this missile has been designed and developed in the UK to combat the modern threats of UAVs and Fast Inshore Attack Craft, a next generation capability delivering a flexible, targeted and proportionate response. Already qualified by the Royal Navy for naval air platforms such as the AW159, its use in a surface-to-surface mode will be validated by the Royal Navy during 2019.

Babcock brings extensive experience of integrating Sea Ceptor, delivering Phalanx and the 4.5” Mk-8 Gun capability to the Royal Navy.


Key Platform Characteristics

Length Overall 138.7 m/455 feet
Beam, Maximum 19.8 m/65 feet
Design Draft 5.0 m/16.4 feet
Displacement 6,000+ t
Main Engine Power 32+ MW
Speed 28+ knots/32 mph/52 km/h