UK doubles down on frigate building

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Work has begun on a huge hall for the Royal Navy’s next-generation Type 31 frigates – to build two ships side-by-side.

Standing at 147 metres long, the hall at Rosyth includes 30-metre high ‘megadoors’ and will be able to accommodate two of the 138.7-metre vessels being assembled at the same time side by side.

Babcock awarded a £31.5m contract to build the module to Robertson Construction and at a small Covid-safe ceremony marking the beginning of the steel structure construction.

The defence firm also announced that it has placed an order for PEMA welding and production panel lines to support the automation of shipbuilding.

During the ceremony a virtual message was heard from Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who said: “This vast industrial facility will see Scottish shipbuilders build our latest warships that will take pride of place in the Royal Navy fleet.”

Ground-breaking for the new hall began in April 2020 and assembly of the first of five Type 31s for the Royal Navy will begin in 2021.

The new hall will have gantry stair access inside the structure to remove the need for scaffolding. This means personnel will be able to safely access the vessels without leaving the building.

Additionally, three new panel lines, a cornerstone of Babcock’s digital transformation at Rosyth, will make the manufacturing process significantly more efficient.

Work has already started on the refurbishment and extension of the existing manufacturing bay which will house the panel lines.

Babcock marked the new Assembly Hall construction milestone by burying a commemorative time capsule at the site of the new facility.

John Howie, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Babcock said: “The Type 31 programme is re-energising the UKs’ maritime capability through innovative, next generation, UK ship design and build.

“The infrastructure investment underway at Rosyth builds on our exceptional heritage, experience and engineering insight, delivering a very real step change in capacity and capability for modern UK shipbuilding.”

David Cairns, regional managing director, Robertson Construction, said: “The provision of this facility will further enhance the delivery capabilities of Babcock from the Rosyth site. We are pleased to be selected as the delivery partner of choice for the new Assembly Hall.”

Team 31 is already operating across the UK in Rosyth, Bristol, Devonport and Crawley, with recruitment underway to support the growth of the programme and mobilisation in readiness for ship build at Rosyth starting in 2021. At its height approximately 1,250 people will work on the programme across the UK.

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