Correction: This story was updated June 29 with the name of the Babcock International chief executive.
LONDON — The British shipbuilder leading the construction of the new Type 31 frigate for the Royal Navy says it is already pursuing five live campaigns to secure exports for the general-purpose warship.
Greece, Indonesia and Poland are currently the front-runners among the five live campaigns being chased by the British, David Lockwood, Babcock International’s chief executive, told the parliamentary Defence Committee on June 29.
Lockwood said the Type 31 was a “serious contender” for the Greek frigate requirement.
The executive was part a team of high-ranking British officials and industry executives recently in Greece for presentations to the government on the Type 31.
The Babcock boss named the potential export customers in response to lawmakers expressing doubts that the warship will achieve the hoped-for success in the marketplace amid competition from France, Italy and South Korea.
A little over a week ago, Babcock announced it had signed a tripartite memorandum of implementation with the Ukrainian and British governments to revitalize the eastern European nation’s Navy and shipbuilding industry. The need for a new frigate was among the requirements mentioned by Babcock as being part of discussions, although the Type 31 was not specifically mentioned.
Britain originally referred to the ship as the Type 31e, with the “e” standing for “export,” but that suffix was recently dropped.
The ship’s export opportunities emerged as the Defence Committee held one of several planned evidence sessions on naval procurement ahead of the government’s publication of a much-awaited refresh of its national shipbuilding strategy, announced in 2017.
A Babcock-led team secured a contract from the British Ministry of Defence in 2019 to build five Type 31 frigates at an average cost of £250 million (U.S. $347 million) at its Rosyth yard in Scotland. The warship recently completed it’s whole ship critical design review and is on track to be handed over to the Royal Navy in 2025.
Known as the Arrowhead 140, it is based on the Danish-designed Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate and is set to partially replace the aging Type 23 frigate fleet.
The first three of eight Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigates are under construction at BAE Systems to replace the remainder of the Type 23 fleet.