Work begins on first of five Royal Navy warships

The Type 31 frigates are being built in Fife.

The Royal Marine Band play in The Venturer Building after a frigate steel cutting ceremony for the first of the class Type 31 frigate, at Babcock Rosyth, Fife
The Royal Marine Band play in The Venturer Building after a frigate steel cutting ceremony for the first of the class Type 31 frigate, at Babcock Rosyth, Fife

Work has officially started on a £1.25 billion project to build the Royal Navy’s five new warships as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace cut steel for the first vessel.

The ceremony for HMS Venturer on Thursday took place at Babcock’s facility at Rosyth in Fife, where the new Type 31 frigates are being built.

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.

Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hine and International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan were among the dignitaries present at the event, along with Director General Ships, Vice Admiral Chris Gardner of Defence Equipment and Support.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace alongside Second Sea Lord Nick Hines outside The Venturer Building after a frigate steel cutting ceremony for the first of the class Type 31 frigate, at Babcock Rosyth, Fife
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace alongside Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hines outside The Venturer Building after a frigate steel cutting ceremony at Babcock Rosyth, Fife (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Wallace described the event as a “great milestone in the renaissance of British shipbuilding”.

He 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.”

The Type 31 will be equipped with innovative technology and will have 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 the space to house a Royal Navy helicopter.

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.

Workers watch a frigate steel cutting ceremony for the first of the class Type 31 frigate, at Babcock Rosyth, Fife
Workers watch the frigate steel cutting ceremony for the Type 31 frigate (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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.”

The construction of the fleet will support around 1,250 highly skilled jobs at Babcock and see the creation of an additional 150 apprenticeships, while a further 1,250 roles in the UK supply chain are also expected to be supported by the programme.

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.

The Royal Marine Band leave The Venturer Building after a frigate steel cutting ceremony for the first of the class Type 31 frigate, at Babcock Rosyth, Fife
The Royal Marine Band leave The Venturer Building after the ceremony (Andrew Milligan/PA)

All five vessels will be built by Babcock on the Firth of the Forth with an average production cost of £250 million per vessel.

Babcock’s new assembly hall The Venturer Building was also named during the day.

The company’s chief executive 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.”

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