KBR, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, and V.Group have announced the formation of Team Calibre to position capabilities to support the future UK Royal Navy Type 31 frigate through life support programme, which will sustain the platforms through their planned operational service.

The planned eight-year Type 31 through life support contract is expected to commence in Q4 2025 and intended to optimise the availability and operational service for the five new Type 31 Inspiration-class frigates, currently under construction by manufacturer Babcock’s site in Rosyth.

In a 23 May 2024 release, the trio outlined the formation of Team Calibre and the intention to support the Type 31 sustainment programme. US-based KBR is a known supplier to the UK Government in the defence domain, while V.Group has operations in more than 30 countries in the commercial shipping sector.

Frazer-Nash meanwhile is a UK-Australia consultancy working across industries, including defence. The company is a KBR entity, with the US company completing the acquisition in 2021.

In November 2023 the UK Ministry of Defence published a tender notice outlining requirement for the Type 31 through life support programme, which would run through until January 2032 with two additional years on option. The value of the contract was between $240m (£190m) and $305m (£241m).

It is likely that some of the Type 31 frigates will be forward based at locations such as the UK’s Naval Support Facility at Mina Salman in Bahrain, or potentially at Sembawang in Singapore.

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Babcock providing upkeep for Type 31 predecessor, the Type 23

As one of two new classes of surface warships under construction for the UK Royal Navy, the Type 31 frigates will form a central element to the service’s surface combatant capabilities from the late-2020s, as they are introduced into service in replacement of the general-purpose variant Type 23 frigates currently operational.

The five general-purpose Type 23 frigates are based primarily in Portsmouth, with the remaining anti-submarine warfare variants located further westwards at Devonport Naval Base.

In April 2024, Babcock, manufacturer of the Type 31 frigates, was awarded the contract to manage the Type 23 frigate Refit Support Group, which saw the company take over end-to-end responsibility for vessel upkeep and generation in preparation for handover to ship’s crew for deployment.

This change follows more than five years of Babcock’s working with the Royal Navy-led Refit Support Group, with the company stating that the new arrangement would serve to “free up Royal Navy personnel for front line operations”.

Babcock’s Type 23 Refit Support Group engineering technicians would now work alongside Babcock’s Upkeep project teams to ensure Type 23 systems maintenance, intended to improve platform availability.