UK MoD suspends Type 31 frigate program

The UK defense ministry’s project of acquiring “low-cost” Type 31 frigates has been brought to a halt due to what the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) office described as a lack of “compliant bids”.

One of the designs proposed for the Royal Navy's Type 31 frigate. Photo: Cammell Laird

The process is now being streamlined, according to a IHS Jane’s report, and will be restarted in hopes of attracting more competition for the shipbuilding contract.

A Times report suggests that the suspension is more related to a lack of funds than a lack of compliant bids.

Labour MP Luke Pollard criticized the announcement in a tweet saying the government failed to include the £1.25bn in the MOD Budget.

“Government suspends frigate programme but doesn’t make a single statement to Parliament in last day. No scrutiny of Ministers on this now until September. Really concerning decision for their keynote frigate programme,” Luke Pollard commented on Twitter.

Announcing the Type 31 program in 2017, the MoD set a price cap of £250M per ship for the first batch of five frigates. The first ships were set to be in service by 2023 but this delivery time frame is likely to change following the latest announcement.

The two known contenders for the Type 31 construction were the Cammell Laird and BAE Systems team with a design proposal known as Leander, while a Babcock-led team pitched the Arrowhead 140 design which was based on the Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates OMT designed for the Royal Danish Navy.

A Forces News report states a UK MoD spokesperson said the ministry still expects the first ship to be delivered by 2023 under the previously set price tag.