Type 31e Export Frigate - Program
The MOD announced plans to competitively procure the lighter and exportable Type 31e general purpose frigates. Pending a successful outcome to the procurement competition, MOD intended a 2023 in service date for the first vessel. The Royal Navy will, with the arrival of the Type 31e frigates, have increased flexibility. This will allow us to refocus offshore patrol vessels and other craft on their core patrol and presence roles, while the Type 31e ships will maintain the points of presence required to deliver security in an uncertain world. This then will allow the high-end capabilities of the Type 26 frigates and Type 45 destroyers to focus on the Maritime Task Group operations (particularly Carrier Strike), as well as the protection of the Nuclear Deterrent. This major program of investment provides an opportunity to deliver the necessary step-change in UK shipbuilding, and maximise the benefits of this throughout the UK while delivering defence and security needs.
Assuming that Industry can deliver a design and build program for an exportable light frigate that meets Royal Navy requirements at the right price, within the allocation set aside in the Ministry of Defence’s program for this, MOD will allocate the necessary funds at the Main Gate investment decision point, again, as a set and assured capital budget.
The 5 Type 23 general purpose frigates will be replaced with a class of Type 31e general purpose frigates. The first will be in service by 2023 and we require each new ship to come in at 12 month intervals. Type 31e will enable us to grow the size of the frigate force. The Government set no upper limit on the number of Type 31es that will be introduced to the Fleet; this would be a decision for future Governments.
The Type 31e Procurement Strategy aimed to inject competitive tension into the market by encouraging participation from the wider UK shipbuilding enterprise, from international players where they meet national security requirements and from non-traditional shipbuilders / new entrants where appropriate. It is intended to maximise competition in design, build, assembly and integration, whilst recognising that, in line with national security objectives, including the sustainment of sovereign capabilities, a UK owned design and UK build and integration will be specified.
The “virtual shipbuilding model” of distributed block building has advantages in terms of pace of build, but a distributed build model can also bring higher integration costs. MOD will test the benefits of the virtual shipbuilding model against the single yard build model during the Type 31e procurement competition. MOD would welcome shipyards to partner with the best companies in the world, and will welcome bids from a consortia of shipyards as well as single yards. For all of future surface ship procurements, MOD will consider distributed block building, as well as conventional build and assembly in one shipyard, taking into account the capacity and capability of all of the shipyards and choosing the best value for money approach on a ase-by-case basis.
The Type 31e Procurement Strategy seeks to draw on private sector expertise in affordability and keeping to schedule, while building capacity in the client function to hold the supplier to account. The competitive approach will employ a series of short phases in order to refine the requirement specification early in the procurement cycle and through a streamlined assurance and approvals process.
The competition to select a design for Type 31e began in the Autumn of 2015. MOD planned to make a Main Gate investment decision in Q4 2018 and commence build in early 2019. The Navy was aiming for the first Type 31e to be in service in 2023 to coincide with the departure from service of the first general purpose Type 23.
The MOD conducted an Industry Market Test starting 15 September 2017 for a future T31e Frigate Design and Build project for a minimum of 5 ships at a maximum average price of £250m per ship. The T31e program was charged to fulfil a number of elements of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS) with UK Prosperity and Exportability being two such key elements.
- Deliver 5 ships, with first entry into service from 2023;
- Meet the price of £250m per ship, including development costs, risk and profit, while minimising the GFX burden and cost of ownership to the MOD;
- Accept a firm price contract for a first order of five ships;
- Maximise the UK prosperity footprint and export potential of the offering, without compromising on cost and time;
- Develop as much adaptability, modularity, openness, and agility within the proposals. This should be a ship that navies around the world want to own; and
- Achieve a UK focused Design and Build Strategy that maximises UK content.
The RFI was the first phase of the MOD’s Type 31e market engagement. As part of the MOD’s Procurement Strategy, the MOD applied a Value Management [VM] approach to MOD/Industry dialogue and iterative solution development to ensure that excess or unnecessary cost can be driven out of proposed solutions, whilst ensuring that quality and capability are maintained as far as possible. The VM Phase followed BS/EN 12973 (2000), tailored as appropriate for T31e, and contains nine value threads to be explored collaboratively between the MOD and Industry. These are:
- Cost - Remaining within the £250M Firm Price;
- Capability - Achieving the Minimum Capability Threshold;
- Cost of Ownership - Achieving cost-effective support, operations and minimising whole life costs;
- Exports - Maximising the export potential for the UK;
- UK Prosperity - Maximising the UK Prosperity Agenda as introduced in SDSR 2015;
- Adaptability - Maximising opportunities for future capability insertion and export potential;
- Sovereignty - Ensuring Freedom of Action and Assured Capability through life;
- Deliverability - Provide confidence that the proposed solution can meet the challenging Program Timescales;
- Military/Civilian Standards for Quality and Safety - Achieving a pragmatic balance between Military and Civilian standards
The T31e program aimed to deliver a pipeline of credible, affordable and exportable warships enabling Defence to increase its global footprint, maintain volume in the Royal Navy, and release ‘high end’ warships from baseload tasks. The T31e is also the primary means of realising the National Shipbuilding Strategy’s (NSbS) benefits, including transforming warship programme governance and industrial performance. The threshold requirement is focussed on maritime security and defence engagement tasks.
The average annual running cost for a Type 23 Frigate and a Type 45 Destroyer is approximately £11 million and £13.5 million respectively. These figures have been rounded to the nearest £100,000. While the Type 31e program was in its pre-procurement phase it was premature to provide an estimate of running costs. The costs given include those items that are directly attributable to the ship, such as personnel costs, fuel and port visits and do not include such items as maintenance, training and generation costs.
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