Speaking today at the First Sea Lord’s Sea Power Conference, Admiral Tony Radakin announced the names of the five Type 31 frigate being constructed for the Royal Navy in Rosyth; HMS Active, HMS Bulldog, HMS Campbeltown, HMS Formidable and HMS Venturer.
This is something of a break from convention in naming practice, as there is no theme or initial letter that links the class names together. Instead they have been chosen based on the inspirational qualities of ships that formerly carried their name and officially will be known as the Inspiration class. According to the RN, names have selected to represent key themes around future missions. Forward deployment of ships around the globe to protect UK interests – HMS Active. Operations in the North Atlantic – HMS Bulldog. The Future Commando Force – HMS Campbeltown. Aircraft carrier operations – HMS Formidable. Technology and innovation – HMS Venturer.
HMS Active will be the 13th ship to bear the name in service with the Royal Navy. The most recent was a Type 21 frigate that saw action in the 1982 Falklands war. Previous Actives include a destroyer that served through WWII, earning 4 Battle Honours including involvement in sinking the German battleship Bismarck. There was also an Active that played a minor part in the WWI the Battle of Jutland, a scout cruiser attached to Admiral Jellicoe’s flagship, HMS Iron Duke.
HMS Bulldog will be the 8th ship to carry the name, the most famous being the 5th, which was involved in the capture of an Enigma machine and codebook from German submarine U-110 on 9th May 1941. She also participated in the demanding and dangerous Arctic Convoys, escorting merchant vessels carrying supplies to Murmansk in Russia. The last HMS Bulldog was the lead vessel of a 4-ship class of survey vessels and was decommissioned in 2001.
HMS Campbeltown will only be the 3rd ship to carry this name. The first was made famous by the commando raid on St Nazaire in 1942, known as the the greatest raid of all. The second was a Batch III Type 22 frigate that decommissioned in 2011 , prematurely axed from the fleet in the 2010 Defence Review.
HMS Formidable will be the 5th ship to bear the name. The previous two were a pre-Dreadnought battleship, and an aircraft carrier which saw extensive WW2 service. This included launching air strikes on the battleship Tirpitz and surviving a kamikaze attack while serving in the British Pacific Fleet.
HMS Venturer will be the 8th ship to carry the name. Most famous was the WWII submarine which, 9 February 1945, sank U-864 while underwater. To date, this is the only occasion a submarine has sunk another submarine underwater.
The first steel is due to be cut for HMS Active this summer, with all five vessels in service by February 2030.
Thanks to Matt Warwick for assistance with historical details.