Babcock International and Indonesian-partner PT PAL have celebrated the keel laying ceremony for the first two new frigates for the Indonesian Navy, which are based on Babcock’s Arrowhead 140 design.
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The ceremony took place at PT PAL in Surabaya, Indonesia, where the ships are being built by a local workforce.
Leveraging the experience and expertise developed through the Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigate program, Babcock is overseeing a transfer of the company’s critical engineering know-how and ship-build experience – supporting the construction of the frigate at PT PAL’s facilities in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Chief executive officer David Lockwood said, “We congratulate PT PAL on this significant milestone of keel laying for the first of their new frigates. This is also an exciting time for Babcock and our Arrowhead 140 export program as we proudly see our design coming to fruition.
“Our customers, and the mission we share, inspire us each and every day to strive for excellence – we look forward to seeing this program develop in Indonesia,” Lockwood added.
This statement was echoed by Babcock Australasia chief executive officer Andrew Cridland, who said of Australia’s own pursuit of a Tier 2 surface combatant, “Babcock’s Arrowhead, a Type 31 frigate derivative, is a capable, adaptable, and multi-mission modern warship that is operationally proficient in both blue water and littoral areas. We consider the Arrowhead would deliver significant capability to the Royal Australian Navy and meet naval requirements both now and into the future.”
In the Royal Navy’s case, the Type 31 Class of general purpose frigates, based on the Babcock Arrowhead 140, will provide the Royal Navy with a class of highly capable warship that sits in between the River Class OPVs and the City and Daring Class vessels, expanding the range and capability of the Royal Navy, without taxing the limited number of large, high-end surface combatants.
Capable of operating with a core crew of only 100 people, Babcock’s Arrowhead frigate would allow the Royal Australian Navy to deploy more capability with a significantly smaller crew.
The Royal Navy plans on acquiring five vessels for itself, with an additional two for Indonesia, and three for Poland, respectively, providing these smaller navies with comparatively high-end warfighting capabilities in a relatively compact package – these vessels weigh in at 5,700 tonnes, with a range of 9,000 nautical miles at 16 knots, and the pre-fitted capacity for up to 32 strike-length MK-41 VLS cells, a 57mm main gun and a core complement of 100, compared to the 177 of the existing Anzac Class frigates or 180 for the Hobart Class destroyers and Hunter Class frigates.
Additionally, the platform has wide growth margins for future mine countermeasures, undersea surveillance, and manned/unmanned teaming options leveraging four large multi-mission bays for the launch and recovery of autonomous systems – this additional flexibility, combined with the increase in capability provided by additional modularity built into the design.
From a cost perspective, the UK has signed a fixed price contract with Babcock for the Type 31 frigates for £1.25 billion, or roughly AU$440 million per frigate before certain weapons systems and other equipment. The total project cost is currently budgeted for £2 billion, allowing for £750 million in government-fitted equipment, resulting in a full unit price of £400 million, or roughly AU$700 million per frigate.
The modular nature of the design provides a comparatively quick building time when compared to the vessels like the Hobart Class, with the UK cutting first steel on the first of the Inspiration Class in 2021 and all five of the Royal Navy’s frigates contracted to be fielded by 2028.