At a ceremony in Rosyth today, the keel was laid for HMS Active the second ship of the ‘inspiration class’. Here we provide a brief update on the project and present a short animation of the Type 31 in action.
HMS Active will be assembled in the shiphall adjacent to the first frigate, HMS Venturer. John Howie, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Babcock told Navy Lookout this week that progress is good, although as is to be expected, they are learning lessons from the first ship which will make the build of subsequent vessels more efficient. HMS Venturer will probably be put in the water during the first quarter of 2024 but that schedule could still be subject to change as they consider the balance between outfitting in the hall and what needs to be done after launch. In order to keep the programme on schedule and provide experience to their partners, Babcock has let a small subcontract for the construction of three double-bottom units for HMS Active to PGZ in Poland.
With the assembly of the second Type 31 frigate, Arrowhead 140 is doing well on all fronts. In August The first steel was cut for the first of the three Polish Miecznik (Swordfish) frigates based on the AH 140 design. Poland has an option for further frigates which may well be taken up as their defence budget has risen rapidly in response to the aggression of their Russian neighbours. In December 2022, PT PAL in Surabaya, Indonesia cut steel for the first of two AH 140s – the Merah Putih (Red and White) frigate programme.
It has not been officially stated but Australian media has reported the RAN is considering reducing Type 26 frigate numbers from the original plan for 9 ships and purchasing a second batch of cheaper frigates. This would mirror the RN’s acquisition pathway and an AH 140 derivative for Australia could be a good option. New Zealand is also a potential customer for AH 140 and this could even see them built in the UK as they lack domestic warship-building capacity.
This short animation from Babcock shows a Mk4 Commando Merlin helicopter landing on the flight deck, launch of sea boat (using twin davits), a Sea Ceptor missile launch (unclear if quad-packed in Mk41 launcher.) Naval Strike Missile launchers are shown – they may eventually be migrated from the Type 23 frigates as they decommission. The Bofors 57m Mk3 gun firing, streaming of the Sonar 2170 passive towed array associated with the Torpedo Defence System and finally, the Bofors 40mm Mk4 gun firing.