The construction of the first of five new Royal Navy Type 31 frigates is now underway in Scotland. In the brand-new assembly hall in Rosyth dockyard, the keel of HMS Venturer was laid in a formal ceremony marking the construction beginning for the ship.
It will be fully constructed over the coming months and, alongside it from next year, will be the second ship in the class - HMS Active.
Jeremy Quin, Defense Procurement Minister, said the keel laying is a hugely important milestone… particularly for HMS Venturer, being the first of a new frigate class for the Royal Navy.
The keel was placed upon a coin minted especially for the occasion, keeping with Naval tradition, and watched by representatives from the Navy and the shipbuilding industry.
The coin was designed by seven-year-old Josh Duffy, whose mother works for Babcock, the firm constructing the ship, and is said to bring the ship and her crew luck.
Rear Admiral Paul Marshall, Director Navy Acquisition for the Royal Navy, said keel laying ceremony joins Royal Navy tradition with 21st century shipbuilding.
He added the short seven months between HMS Venturer's first steel being cut and her keel being laid shows the pace of the Type 31 program and should ensure that the Royal Navy gets the capability it needs on time.
The Venturer Hall is large enough to allow two frigates, each longer, wider and heavier than the Type 23s, to be constructed at the same time.
The 6,000 ton Type 31s are larger than the current Type 23s they replace, but shorter and lighter than the Type 26 frigates also being built for the fleet. The Type 26s will focus on anti-submarine warfare, allowing the Type 31s to carry out patrols wherever they are needed.
Each ship is equipped with three Pacific 24 boats, used for board-and-search and counter narcotics work. They also come armed with a 57mm gun and two 40mm secondary guns, Sea Ceptor air defense missiles and off-the-shelf sensors and computer systems.
The flight deck of the ship can host helicopters up to the size of a Chinook, although more typically Royal Navy Merlins and Wildcats.
A typical crew will be just over 100, but with space, notably for Royal Marine detachments, for up to 187 personnel on board.
All five ships being built take their names from predecessors infamous for inspirational actions and deeds. HMS Venturer, for example, is named after the first submarine to torpedo and destroy another boat while both craft were submerged.
The construction of the Type 31 frigates is part of a wider investment in UK yards and industry under the Government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy of more than £4 billion over the next three years alone. The money spent by the MOD alone directly supports around 25,000 jobs across the United Kingdom, plus some 20,000 jobs supported indirectly.