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Type 31e Export Frigate - Design

The T31e will be a general purpose light frigate, providing an enduring and continuous worldwide maritime security presence in several forward operating areas, releasing other, more complex warships to their primary roles. The T31e will carry out various maritime interdiction tasks, such as counter drugs and counter piracy. It will also carry out defense engagement activities, such as port visits and official entertainment, demonstrations of military capability and participation in allied training exercises. It must be ready to respond to emergent events, such as natural disasters or evacuation of non-combatants and will routinely carry specialist emergency relief stores in certain operating areas.

The Type 31e will need a hanger and flight deck for both a small helicopter and unmanned air vehicle, accommodation to augment the ship’s company with a variety of mission specialists as required, together with stowage for sea boats, disaster relief stores and other specialist equipment. It will be operated by a core ships company of between 80-100 men and women and it needs to be sufficiently flexible to incorporate future developments in technology, including unmanned systems and novel weaponry as they come to the fore, so open architecture and modularity are a must.

The T31e will usually operate as a singleton, but will often be supported by, and interoperate with other assets from the UK and its allies, particularly NATO. However, the T31e will maintain the UK’s freedom of action to operate independently when it chooses. The T31e will routinely operate with civil vessels and authorities, such as the US Coastguard, HM Border Agency and HM Revenues and Customs. On occasion it will operate with nongovernmental organisations, such as specialist disaster relief organisations.

To accomplish its tasks, the T31e will depend on organic sensors as well as deployable assets; such as sea boats and organic aviation system(s). It will operate predominantly in low threat conditions but will require credible offensive and defensive capabilities to deter aggression, survive attacks and provide reassurance.

The T31e will operate year round, requiring good seakeeping for ocean transits and to allow its helicopter and boats to operate in a wide range of sea states and conditions. It will also operate in a variety of climates (hot, cold and humid). However, relaxation of functionality and performance is acceptable in extremes of climate that would otherwise drive significant additional design and cost, provided that personnel are afforded a safe working environment at all times. Operation in the vicinity of the marginal ice zone is not required.

The T31e design will need to be adaptable, providing evolution paths for future capability to enable growth of the destroyer and frigate numbers into the 2030s, and to address export customers’ needs. Adaptability may include any combination of reconfigurable flexible design (including fit-to-receive), allowance for in-life upgrades or growth through follow on batches.

Based on existing RN manning structures, and assumed concurrent operational activities and manning states, it is assessed that accommodation should be provided for 137 personnel of all genders to carry out the T31e’s military tasks and roles. This would comprise a core crew of approximately 99 and allow for augmentation by up to 24 additional personnel (including helicopter, flight and maintenance personnel), plus an allowance for through life accommodation growth of 14 bunks.

Each platform shall be designed to reduce the maintenance burden on the ships and support technical staff. This means the platform shall, as far as is possible, be operated as it is designed to be operated, Work-in-Way (WiW) shall be minimised, maintenance tasks shall be simplified where possible and Removal Routes shall be identified for all major equipment. Each platform shall be supportable by, and within, the bounds of the ships technical disciplines while at sea. This means that the technical disciplines on board shall, be competent (through training), have capacity (not overburdened), and be enabled (have the spares and technical data) to keep the platform operational. Each platform shall be supported by appropriate shore based technical capabilities either from their UK Base Port or a forward support facility in or near their theatre of operations. Additional deeper support will be sought from and provided by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), where appropriate.

Recent history clearly identified that service life extensions have become the norm for a large proportion of UK naval ships, for instance, the Type 23s will be operated for roughly double their original design life. This is inefficient and expensive. The pace of technological change means that to maintain operational advantage over potential adversaries, there is a requirement to upgrade capabilities, and balance whether a faster ship refresh rate (incorporating new capabilities) or upgrading the capabilities on ships with longer service lives would be better value for money.

With this in mind, work was started to determine the economic service life of the current Fleet. Starting with the Type 31e, the Royal Navy will determine the optimum economic service life for each future class of ship and this will be fixed at Main Gate. This will balance initial purchase costs and through life costs against the costs of upgrading capability and industrial capacity. Such an approach could enable the Type 31e to be available in due course as a “second hand” option to allies and partners.

Regardless of customer, Type 31e will be sufficiently adaptable to fulfil a variety of roles (for example through the incorporation of different modular capabilities). To enable this, MOD will ensure that the basic design of the ship is adaptable: meaning that the ship can be modified to accept different weapons or sensors (either in the design stages or once it enters service) minimising any changes needed to the rest of the ship. The aim will be to align the Type 31e design with the requirements set by the export market or otherwise incorporate the open architecture necessary to allow the modularity which will enable export requirements to be incorporated without costly redesign work.

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Page last modified: 27-07-2018 22:36:17 ZULU