HMS Venturer Type 31

According to the British contractor, the first Inspiration class vessel has successfully completed the three main factory acceptance tests at the system level, including the ICS evaluation.

The key tests passed by the Type 31 Frigate HMS Venturer anticipate its early entry into service with the Royal Navy.

HMS Venturer, the lead ship of the Royal Navy’s Inspiration-class Type 31 frigates, has successfully passed recent factory acceptance trials, marking a significant milestone on its path to operational status.

Under the leadership of Babcock, leader of the Team 31 consortium, the construction of five general-purpose frigates for the Royal Navy is underway. This project is based on the Arrowhead 140 design and is managed under a contract valued at £1.25 billion (approximately $1.59 billion), awarded in November 2019.

Thales, a crucial member of Team 31, is responsible for the implementation and harmonization of the Type 31 mission system, encompassing the combat system, the integrated communications system (ICS) and the integrated bridge and navigation system (IBNS).

According to the British contractor, the first Inspiration-class vessel has successfully completed the three main system-level factory acceptance tests, including the ICS evaluation last September. Later, in November, tests of the TACTICOS combat management system were carried out, incorporating the main radar, electro-optical sensors and fusion with the ship’s missile and artillery systems. The IBNS factory acceptance test was also successfully completed last year.

The achievement of these tests represents significant progress for HMS Venturer, bringing it closer to its official delivery.

“Our close collaboration with the Royal Navy and Babcock has been instrumental in successfully achieving this critical milestone in the development of the Royal Navy’s new Type 31 frigates,” said Nigel MacVean, managing director of UK naval systems at Thales.

A total of five Type 31 frigates are being built for the Royal Navy. Additionally, five more variants will be manufactured for the Polish and Indonesian navies, distributed in three for the first and two for the second.

Type 31 Frigates: Revolution in British Shipbuilding

The 5,700-tonne warships play a key role in the UK’s national shipbuilding strategy, planned to replace the Royal Navy’s aging Type 23 Duke-class frigates towards the end of this decade. They will operate in conjunction with the service’s eight Type 26 anti-submarine warfare specialized frigates.

Babcock’s Rosyth shipyard facilities in Scotland have been the setting for the construction of these innovative warships, with the keel laying of HMS Venturer in April 2022, followed by the start of construction of HMS Active in January 2023.

Scheduled to be commissioned in 2025, HMS Venturer will feature a flight deck for helicopter operations and bays for small craft. Its advanced weaponry will include vertical launch systems for anti-aircraft and cruise missiles, including the renowned SM-2, SM-3, SM-6, Tomahawk and SeaSparrows. Additionally, each Type 31 frigate will be equipped with one Bofors 57 Mk3 medium caliber gun and two smaller caliber Bofors 40 Mk4 guns, providing a versatile and effective fire capability.

Delivery of the five Type 31 frigates is scheduled to be completed by 2028, marking significant progress in the modernization of the Royal Navy’s fleet.

A more compact crew for greater efficiency in type 31 frigates

A distinctive feature of the Type 31 will be its operation with less than a third of the crew required by current ships, a measure designed to address the recruiting challenges faced by the Royal Navy. These future warships will operate effectively with only 50 officers and sailors, in contrast to the 185 that made up the crew of the Type 23 frigates.

This adjustment in staffing reflects a historical trend towards smaller crews, highlighted by the Telegraph. From the age of sail with the frigate HMS Naiad and her 284 sailors during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 to crews of over 300 on early steamships such as HMS Amphion and the reduction to less than 200 during the Second World War and the Cold War, the Royal Navy has continued to adapt to the operational and technological needs of the moment.

The reduction to just 50 crew will not only increase operational efficiency but could also improve living conditions on board, offering more amenities and personal space for each sailor, thus improving the quality of life at sea.