The race to design and build a new generation of Royal Navy frigates has been won by a consortium led by Babcock, providing a major boost for Scottish jobs. 

The firm has been named as preferred bidder for the contract worth £1.25bn in a deal that could secure hundreds of jobs at Rosyth in Fife, where the ships will be assembled, with construction work spread between yards across the UK.

Work on five Type 31 warships is to begin by the end of 2019, with the first ships delivered in 2023.

It will also provide a much-needed boost and work for Ferguson Marine Engineering, which is being taken over by the Scottish government after collapsing in August.

READ MORE: Rosyth Dockyard wins £5m contract for HMS Queen Elizabeth maintenance

More than 2,500 jobs across the UK are expected to be supported as a result of the Type 31 programme, including 150 jobs for new technical apprenticeships.


The promotional video for Arrowhead 140, Babcock's Type 31e contender appeared to adopt an optimistic tone.

The Type 31 is a smaller, cheaper frigate than the Type 26 warships currently being built at the Upper Clyde shipyards.

Stephen Kerr, the Conservative MP for Stirling, said the news was “absolutely fantastic” for Scotland and would provide “new jobs for young Scots”.

And Murdo Fraser, the Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife added: "Fantastic news for Fife and for Scottish engineering. Jobs secured for many years to come - and only possible as part of the UK."

In July, last year, it was announced that Britain had shelved plans to build the new generation of frigates in the latest fall-out from a controversial decision not to invest on the Clyde.

The new deal also provides a major boost to Belfast’s Harland & Wolff, the builder of the Titanic that fell into administration last month.

With a price ceiling of £250m per ship, the aim is to maintain the size of the Navy's surface fleet and generate export orders.

Arrowhead 140, described by Babcock as a capable, adaptable and technology-enabled global frigate, will be the Royal Navy's newest class of warships, with the first ship scheduled for launch in 2023.

At its height the programme will have a workforce of around 1,250 in highly- skilled roles, with around 150 new technical apprenticeships likely to be developed. The work is expected to support an additional 1,250 roles within the wider UK supply chain.

READ MORE: Government accused of 'burying bad news' as plan to build new frigates at Rosyth is shelved

Archie Bethel, chief executive of Babcock said: "It has been a tough competition and we are absolutely delighted that Arrowhead 140 has been recognised as offering the best design, build and delivery solution for the UK's Royal Navy Type 31 frigates."

The Babcock team's Arrowhead 140 design beat off competition from a Cammell Laird/BAE Systems consortium and a third bid led by Atlas Elektronik UK.

The winning consortium also includes Thales, BMT as well as Ferguson Marine, based in Port Glasgow and Harland and Wolff in Belfast - both of which are currently in administration.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Boris Johnson said: “The UK is an outward-looking island nation, and we need a shipbuilding industry and Royal Navy that reflect the importance of the seas to our security and prosperity.

“This is an industry with a deep and visceral connection to so many parts of the UK and to the Union itself.

“My government will do all it can to develop this aspect of our heritage and the men and women who make up its workforce – from apprentices embarking on a long career, to those families who have worked in shipyards for generations.

“I look forward to the restoration of British influence and excellence across the world’s oceans. I am convinced that by working together we will see a renaissance in this industry which is so much part of our island story – so let’s bring shipbuilding home.”

Economy secretary Derek Mackay was "delighted" with the news and said he was looking forward to working with Babcock "to maximise the benefits" for Scotland, Rosyth and our supply chain.

“This contract will secure work at Rosyth for the next decade and the awarding of this contract is a testament to the skilled workforce and expertise which we have in Scotland," he said.

“I have spoken with Babcock this morning to assure them they have the full support of the Scottish Government.

“Once the final details of the contract are announced,  we look forward to discussions on the role that Ferguson Marine could play alongside other suppliers in Scotland.”

Mr Bethel added:  “Driven by innovation and backed by experience and heritage, Arrowhead 140 is a modern warship that will meet the maritime threats of today and tomorrow, with British ingenuity and engineering at its core. It provides a flexible, adaptable platform that delivers value for money and supports the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.

“Arrowhead 140 will offer the Royal Navy a new class of ship with a proven ability to deliver a range of peacekeeping, humanitarian and warfighting capabilities whilst offering communities and supply chains throughout the UK a wide range of economic and employment opportunities.”