The 'Leander' Type 31e frigate
Image Source: BAE Systems
The 'Leander' Type 31e frigate
Richard Bell

Warship plans outlined as firms bid for £1.25bn gov contract

Shipbuilder Cammell Laird and defence giant BAE System are making a joint bid for the Government’s £1.25bn new-build frigate programme.

Exports will be central to the tender, according to speakers at a recent supplier conference hosted by Cammell Laird, BAE and the Society of Maritime of Industries.

The Government launched a procurement process for the design and build of five Royal Navy T31e frigates last year. A core objective of the programme is to attract orders from overseas.

Birkenhead-based Cammell Laird is bidding for the position of prime contractor in partnership with BAE, with plans for a warship design known as ‘Leander’.

Tony Graham, Type 31e project director at Cammell Laird, told attendees at the conference he believes the Leander’s £250m price tag means it is both “powerful and affordable”.

To support the project, Cammell Laird will establish a global warship exports division.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Graham said: “In order to win this competition, we must be better, cheaper and faster than anyone else.

“Fundamentally, we recognised that this ship has to work straight ‘out of the box’. Leander is a very practical warship with credibility, a degree of ruggedness and robustness, and delivering low risk lifecycle costs.”

He continued: “We have a global campaign plan for the Type 31e programme and have identified opportunities in more than 20 countries.

“Our intent is to build a warship export business based on Leander. The MoD has indicated it is willing to sign a business agreement alongside the contract to help industry export the Type 31e. This joint approach between the Government and the Royal Navy producing a proper business plan for exports has never been seen before.”

According to Cammell Laird MD Linton Roberts, the supplier response to the conference served as a strong endorsement of the Government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.

He commented: “We have been overwhelmed by the response to this conference, to the extent that we have had to arrange a second date to ensure that all interested companies are able to attend.

“I think that this level of interest is a very strong endorsement of the National Shipbuilding Strategy and its aims and aspirations. We at Cammell Laird are very excited by the opportunity, and specifically the design we have developed jointly with BAE Systems – which we have named Leander.”

Mr Roberts continued: “My message to the conference is that we are open for business, open to new ideas and open to new commercial relationships. We want to hear about what they can do to help us make Leander a national and international success not only for our customer, the Royal Navy, but also for UK PLC.”

Cammell Laird will set up a Type 31e website next month, with further details due to be issued to suppliers ahead of the final tender this autumn.

The Ministry of Defence is expected to award the contract for the Type 31e frigates in March next year.

If Cammell Laird and BAE are successful, steel cutting could start in Merseyside as early as March 2020.

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