This marks the move to the multi-ship phase of the program, in which two warships are built simultaneously, with work continuing in parallel just meters away from the first of the Inspiration class, HMS Venturer.
Babcock’s director of corporate affairs, John Howie said progress is satisfactory. However, as expected, lessons are being learned in constructing the first ship that will make the construction of subsequent ships more efficient.
HMS Venturer could likely be launched during the first quarter of 2024, but that schedule could still be subject to change as they consider the balance between the equipment on the ship and what needs to be done after launch. To keep the program on schedule and provide expertise to its partners, Babcock has subcontracted the construction of three double-bottom units for HMS Active to PGZ (Poland).
The assembly of the second Type 31 frigate, Arrowhead 140 (AH 140) seems to have the wind in its favor on all fronts. In August, the first steel was cut for the first of three Polish Miecznik (Swordfish) frigates based on the AH 140 design. Poland can acquire more frigates, which could well be taken advantage of, as its defense budget has increased rapidly in response to the aggression of its Russian neighbors.
In December 2022, PT PAL in Surabaya, Indonesia, cut steel for the first of two AH 140s: the Indonesian government’s Merah Putih (Red and White) frigate program.
On the other hand, although it has not been officially stated, Australian media have reported that the Royal Australian Navy (RN) is considering reducing the number of Type 26 frigates from the original plan of 9 ships and purchasing a second batch of cheaper frigates. This would reflect the RN acquisition path, and a derivative of the AH 140 for Australia could be a good option.
New Zealand is also a potential customer for the AH 140, and this could even lead to them building in the UK as they lack domestic warship-building capacity.
This short Babcock animation shows a Mk4 Commando Merlin helicopter landing on the flight deck, the launch of a sea boat (using twin davits), and the launch of a Sea Ceptor missile (unclear if it is packed in four on the Mk41 launcher ). Naval Strike missile launchers shown: These may eventually be migrated from the Type 23 frigates as they are decommissioned. The firing of the Bofors 57m Mk3 cannon, the transmission of the Sonar 2170 passive towed assembly associated with the torpedo defense system and, finally, the firing of the Bofors 40mm Mk4 cannon.